On Tuesday 4th June, the SRA held an event in Birmingham that was aimed specifically at prospective firms seeking to gain authorisation from the SRA. The event ‘Getting authorised by the SRA: a step-by-step guide’ outlined the required criteria that the SRA would expect to see from applicants.
Having recently reviewed the process and about to bring in a new application process the SRA was keen to demonstrate its new process and what it was looking for.
Samantha Barrass, SRA Executive Director, explained the risk-based approach being taken by the Firm-based Authorisation Unit, and how it is applied to applications for authorisation from recognised bodies, sole practitioners and alternative business structures (ABSs).
Ms Barrass said: "We often get asked about the sort of business models we like and those we don’t like, what are acceptable structures and which are not. These are actually the wrong questions to be asking and an impossible one for us to answer.
"Our focus and concern is not on the model that is being proposed, although some are clearly riskier than others, but the ability of the owners and managers to manage the risks. We could authorise one business model quite confidently and reject an identical looking one where we don’t have confidence that the risks are being managed adequately.”
Chris Harris of Practical Vision attended the event and comments: “It is really good that the SRA decided to hold an event like this to help prospective regulated firms to understand what a good application should contain. Encouraging firms to focus on the risks and how they will manage them is entirely the right approach.
“Many conveyancers may want to convert to ABS status to enable them to innovate. If you want to convert we would recommend that you engage with experts who know what the SRA are seeking.”