Appartment buildings are backdropped by scyscrapers of banks at Canary Wharf in London, Britain October 30, 2015.

Reuters/Reinhard Krause

LONDON Scrapping a central register of a broad range of people working in Britain’s financial sector puts consumer protection at risk, a UK finance accreditation body said on Thursday.

On March 7, a new system for authorising staff at banks was introduced, known as the senior managers regime or SMR.

Under this system, the Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England vet only senior officials at banks, such as chief executives, non-executive directors who chair key committees, and heads of business units.

It replaces a system where regulators authorised a far wider range of employees, such as analysts and financial advisors, all of whom appeared on the FCA’s public register.

In future, financial firms are responsible for “certifying” less senior staff and their names will not be on a public register.

Simon Culhane, chief executive of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), which accredits finance professionals like advisers, said the lack of a central register for less senior employees is causing concern for consumers.

He said investors were calling up CISI to say that when checking on the FCA register if a financial adviser was bona fide, they now read the person is “inactive”, with their approval having ended on March 6.

“This, naturally, alarms the customer who thinks the adviser is not able to give advice,” Culhane said in a statement.

“At the very least, the wording should be changed to something less dramatic, such as ‘no longer applicable’ or ‘approval regime terminated’,” he added.

“The position is worse for new advisers who have never appeared on the register and never will, so when a search is done on their name, they won’t even show up.”

The aim of SMR is to make senior individuals directly accountable for decisions in their part of the business and easier for regulators to bring them to book when something goes wrong.

The FCA said it had no comment. Consumers could still call the financial firm to check on a staff member’s qualifications.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Tom Heneghan)