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Financial services sector

Aim of this page

FCA approval is required for positions which perform a ‘controlled function’. This function is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and is therefore eligible for a standard DBS check.

The aim of this page is to set out how your criminal record might affect your application to be FCA approved.

It’s part of our information on looking for (and keeping) employment and volunteering.

Why is this important?

It’s important to understand whether a role you are applying for is regarded as a ‘controlled function’ and therefore eligible for a standard DBS check. If it is eligible then being clear about what you need to disclose and how it is likely to be dealt with will hopefully improve your chances of success.

Does a role require a standard check?

We worked in the FCA in 2014 to update their website with information on the types of roles are regarded as ‘controlled functions‘. The website now has some additional explanation, explaining some general rules of thumb about what constitutes a controlled function (in addition to the descriptive list of titles).

It’s not possible to state which roles do not require FCA approval, but the FCA has offered that anyone with spent convictions who is unclear about whether a role requires approval, and therefore a standard check, can ring the FCA for guidance on their particular case.

Contact details for the FCA are:

UK: 0845 606 9966 (call rates may vary), 0300 500 0597
From abroad: +44 20 7066 1000

How do I know which controlled functions I need to be approved for?

Not all controlled functions apply to all companies, and it may not be necessary for organisations to have all employees approved by the FCA.

A company that only deals with mortgages and/or general insurance business, does not need to apply for every individual in the company to be approved to advise on mortgages and general insurance products. It would be enough for one individual (for example a director) in the company to be approved.

A retailer whose main business is not financial services but who sells insurance policies will only need approval for the person who holds a senior management role and overseas systems and controls.

What information will I need to disclose?

Details on what will be disclosed on a standard DBS check can be found here. Further FCA guidance around disclosure can be found on the FCA site under disclosing criminal convictions.

What happens if I don’t disclose?

It’s important that you disclose everything that you need to disclose when you apply. Find out whether your cautions or convictions are eligible for filtering before you complete your application. Being open and honest will count in your favour and the success of your application could be affected if the FCA find that you have withheld information or provided false or incomplete facts. If you are in any doubt about what’s on your criminal record then apply for a Subject Access Request so that you’ll be clear about what’s going to be disclosed.

Will the FCA approve me?

The FCA took over from the FSA in 2013. The FCA doesn’t have any specific documentation available publicly about who they will grant approval to, but details of the FSA’s approach to people with criminal convictions is detailed in Applications for approval – our approach to adverse disclosures.

Every applicant will be considered on their fitness and propriety. The most important considerations will be:

  • honesty, integrity and reputation
  • competence and capability, and
  • financial soundness

The FCA will review each application on a case-by-case basis and will consider:

  • The nature of the offence and the relevance to the controlled function that the individual is to be approved to perform
  • Whether the nature of the offence raises questions about honesty, integrity and/or competence
  • The amount of time that has passed since the offence occurred
  • Whether the offence relates to an isolated incident or forms part of a pattern or behaviour.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Anybody performing a governing function for an appointed representative must be an approved person.

However, for appointed representatives that carry out general insurance business, incidental to their main business (for example, a vet recommending specific pet insurance), only one person in the company needs to be an approved person. That person should be a director (or equivalent).

Personal experiences

The personal stories below have been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

  • Disclosure and Barring Service – The DBS are responsible for carrying out standard and enhanced criminal record checks
  • FCA – The FCA is a regulator for financial services companies and financial markets in the UK

More information

  1. For practical information – For more information on looking for (and keeping) employment and volunteering and standard criminal record checks
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine
  3. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  4. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page below
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine.


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Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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