(Adds details, comments from SFC chief executive)
By Michelle Price and Sumeet Chatterjee
HONG KONG Dec 16 Hong Kong's financial firms
must register managers responsible for the day-to-day running of
regulated activities in an effort to make individuals more
accountable, its securities regulator said on Friday.
People with overall management oversight and those in charge
of key functions would need approval to act as "responsible
officers", the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said.
Its new "managers in charge" regime, which will
significantly increase scrutiny of executives in Hong Kong's
finance industry and increase their accountability, is part of a
global push by regulators to raise conduct standards in the
scandal-ridden financial industry.
The SFC is the first Asia-Pacific regulator to adopt such a
regime after Britain's Financial Conduct Authority introduced
similar rules following more than two years of consultation.
It privately briefed banks and funds but opted not to issue
a public consultation, sparking concern among industry
participants who fear it is being rushed in.
Firms will need to review and possibly overhaul and
re-document all reporting lines, governance structures and job
descriptions. Many unlicensed managers, even those overseas, may
also need to become directly licensed and accredited by the SFC.
Reuters reported last month the new regime will extend far
beyond the front-line staff directly licensed by the watchdog to
those in support functions including IT, operations, compliance
and risk management.
"Senior managers ... should be well aware of the obligations
currently imposed on them as well as their potential liability
if they fail to discharge their responsibilities," SFC CEO
Ashley Alder said in a statement.
From April 18, 2017, firms will have to submit up-to-date
management structure information and organisational charts to
the SFC. All existing licensed corporations should submit the
required information by July 17, the SFC said.
The "managers in charge" of the overall management oversight
and key business line functions, who are not already responsible
officers, should apply for the watchdog's approval to become so
by Oct. 16, the SFC said.
The new rules will also encompass executives involved in the
day-to-day running of SFC-regulated activities who are based
overseas as the SFC is concerned that it does not know the
identities of many of those with crucial responsibilities at the
2,000 or so companies it regulates, market participants said.
(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Alexander Smith)