MHC: One in four financial services firms not ready for IAF/SEAR regime

MHC: One in four financial services firms not ready for IAF/SEAR regime

Pictured (left–right): Liam Flynn and Rowena Fitzgerald.

One in four financial services firms are yet to fully grasp the legal implications of the impending Central Bank accountability rules, according to a survey by Mason Hayes & Curran.

There are significant gaps in readiness and understanding ahead of the individual accountability framework/senior executive accountability regime (IAF/SEAR) coming into force on 1 July 2024, according to the survey.

The business law firm polled more than 230 senior banking and financial services professionals at its recent webinar titled “Financial Regulation – Individual Accountability Framework, Where Do Things Stand?”.

The findings indicate that readiness for the new regime remains an issue. As many as 42 per cent of firms said they require more training and development ahead of the deadline, and 26 per cent are yet to finalise their internal compliance systems.

Liam Flynn, financial services sector lead partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “These figures suggest that a significant effort is required in the coming months for a smooth transition to the new standards.

“The lack of full legal understanding amongst a significant portion of the sector poses a serious challenge and highlights an immediate area for focus and action.”

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents said that the Central Bank should (34 per cent) or should sometimes (40 per cent) use IAF/SEAR for investigating non-financial misconduct.

Responses also revealed a divided view on the impact of the new framework. More than four in 10 (42 per cent) of respondents anticipate an increase in operational complexity, while 38 per cent anticipate enhanced decision-making within their organisations.

Rowena Fitzgerald, partner and co-head of financial regulation at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “The split in opinions is quite telling and reflects the uncertainty in the market. This underscores the complexity of the new legal landscape firms must navigate as they prepare for the IAF/SEAR implementation.”

Another concern highlighted in the survey is the adequacy of insurance coverage for personal liability exposures. Over half of the respondents (56 per cent) were unsure if their firm’s directors and officers (D&O) insurance policies would cover them for claims related to professional decision-making.

Mr Flynn added: “As the July 1st implementation date for the IAF/SEAR approaches, our survey results underline the need for increased guidance, preparation and training within the Irish financial services sector.”

Share icon
Share this article: