The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revamped its online register for mutuals to offer refreshed content and improved search functions.
Changes made by the FCA’s Mutuals Team include transferring its guidance for the sector from an online PDF to a hyper-linked set of resources.
This is now available as part of the FCA’s Handbook, which contains “the complete record of FCA legal instruments and presents changes made in a single, consolidated view”. The change is designed to help societies and their advisers more easily find the information they need, with an advanced search function that was not available on the old PDF format. The new format also makes it easier for the FCA to update its guidance.
The team have also refreshed the Mutuals pages on the FCA website, with a portal offering “an easy way to submit forms and registration documents for your society in one place”, and a Mutuals Public Register – “a public record of mutual societies in the UK including contact and annual return information”.
There section also carries information on registration, reporting, and ongoing requirements for mutuals.
An FCA spokesperson said: “We’ve focused our efforts on data and the Mutuals Public Register. This was an aim we set out in our mutuals registration strategy last year.
“We’ve created new reporting classifications to help people better understand the types of societies registered with us; and responded to requests from mutuals to make the Standard Industrial Classification codes more visible.
“We know people use the Mutuals Public Register to find society documents. We’ve improved how people find documents for individual societies and digitised more than 280,000 records.
“We’ve also completely refreshed the mutuals content on our main FCA website, following suggestions made by organisations who work closely with societies, and made our guidance more accessible by moving it to our Handbook.
“Our work is ongoing and improvements to how we use and present the data we hold continues through increased investment in our Mutuals Society Portal.”
Among those welcoming the changes is Yorkshire-based Wrigleys Solicitors, whose areas of practice include the social economy. Writing for professional services website Mondaq, Wrigleys lawyer Laura Moss said: “This change is a positive step forward for the FCA and societies. The new hyper-linked set of resources, combined with the refreshed website, provides a more user-friendly and accessible resource for societies and their advisors. The ability to update the guidance means that societies can stay informed about changes to regulations and best practices.
“Overall, this is a change we welcome; improving the FCA’s guidance and resources for societies, makes it easier for societies to comply with regulations and focus on achieving their goals.
“The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.”
Dane Pollard, governance advisor at Co-operatives UK, said: “The updates to the FCA Mutuals Register are very encouraging – one of many positive changes they have made on behalf of societies in recent years.
“The latest updates are especially helpful for those wanting to search for particular details of societies and being able to filter by document type, which speeds up the process. We have a good relationship with the FCA and enjoy a regular dialogue with them about potential future improvements and what’s important for our members. We’re grateful for their efforts to see these improvements to fruition.”