Covid-19 action points
The evolving situation in relation to Covid-19 has given rise to numerous issues for the SIPP and SSAS sector over the past few months. Key action points for those responsible for operating SIPPs/SSASs include:
- ensuring there are plans in place for effective scheme governance whilst lockdown/social distancing requirements are in place, eg:
- making sure there are arrangements in place for executing documents, bearing in mind that specific requirements apply (eg in relation to witnessing) where a deed is required or where documents have to be submitted to HM Land Registry;
- understanding the requirements for a company/trustee board to pass resolutions without meeting in person, eg by holding a meeting remotely or passing a written resolution;
- ensuring there are plans in place for appropriate member communications;
- understanding the FCA's expectations regarding compliance with the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuring the SM&CR requirements are met (see "Joint PRA and FCA Statement on SM&CR regime" in the FCA section of our update);
- monitoring to check that business continuity plans (eg in relation to remote working) are operating effectively, both in relation to own business and service providers;
- where real property is held as an investment, understanding how landlords' rights have been affected by Covid-19 measures. (Note that as a temporary measure, HMRC has announced that payment holidays on rents due to pension scheme landlords on commercial properties agreed on an arm's length basis do not require an independent valuation.)
FCA survey of firms' financial resilience due to Covid-19
The FCA has sent out a survey to 13,000 regulated firms, including SIPP operators, with the aim of understanding the effect Covid-19 is having on firms' financial resilience. The survey contains 10 questions and the FCA estimates that it takes about an hour to complete. The questions focus on:
- liquidity/cash availability;
- recent financial performance;
- scale of business activity; and
- access to government schemes.
The FCA is requiring firms to complete the survey within 7 working days. The FCA says that the survey is unlikely to be a one-off exercise and could be repeated depending on the results.