1. Who can apply to become an Authorised Firm?
To apply for authorisation, a firm must be a body corporate or partnership, which intends to carry on regulated activities in or from the QFC.
Applying firms can be formed:
- Inside the QFC by incorporating either under the Companies Regulations or the Limited Liability Partnership Regulations; or
- Outside the QFC, but using a branch office in the QFC that is registered with the QFC Companies Registration Office.
2. Should my firm talk to the QFC Authority or Regulatory Authority before submitting an application form?
You should discuss your proposal with the Regulatory Authority Authorisation department. Please contact us at +974-495-6888 to make an appointment.
3. How long does it take to process an application?
We aim to process applications within three months of receiving all relevant information. The timeline depends largely on the nature, scale and complexity of the business, of the applicants, as well as the timely submission of information by applicants and responses to requests for further information or clarification. The application process is interactive, and may involve correspondence, meetings, reports from third parties, and on-site reviews or inspections.
4. What is the purpose of the fitness and propriety criteria for Authorised Firms and what are they?
The Financial Services Regulations provides the QFC Regulatory Authority with the power to make rules setting out the criteria which an applicant must satisfy before authorisation can be granted. The Financial Services Regulations states that such criteria shall include the fitness and propriety of an applicant. The purpose of the fitness and propriety criteria is to set out the minimum criteria that an applicant must meet for it to become and to remain authorised. The fitness and propriety criteria summarises some of the areas that the QFC Regulatory Authority will consider during the assessment of an applicant for authorisation. It draws together the parts of the QFC Regulatory Authority Rulebooks that are relevant to the applicant, and it is used to determine whether the applicant is ready, willing and able to comply with all of the appropriate QFC Regulatory Authority requirements. In relation to an Authorised Firm, the fitness and propriety criteria are described in Article 29(2)-(5) of the Financial Services Regulations and chapter 2 of the General Rulebook.
5. What is expected in terms of systems and controls?
An Authorised Firm must have effective procedures and controls to manage its business to a high standard and to comply with all of the QFC Regulatory Authority Rules, including but not limited to: conduct of business, anti-money laundering, compliance monitoring and risk management. These requirements are relevant to all firms regardless of whether they are reliant on complex IT systems or have simpler, manually based systems.
The extent of an Authorised Firm’s systems and controls will depend on the nature, scale and complexity of its business in the QFC.
6. Is the granting of authorisation made public?
Yes. The QFC Regulatory Authority is a transparent regulator and is required under Article 18 of the Financial Services Regulations to make public certain registers and other information.
The QFC Regulatory Authority makes public its register of authorised firms, which is a database of all firms authorised to carry on regulated activities. The public register lists the name of the Authorised Firm, the Regulated Activities it is authorised to conduct, any conditions or restrictions applying to the Authorised Firm and a breakdown of the specified products in respect of which it may conduct Regulated Activities.
7. Can an individual be authorised to provide Regulated Activities in his own right?
The QFC regime does not provide for the concept of a sole trader. An individual cannot be authorised in his own right to provide Regulated Activities, but may provide these services as an approved individual of an Authorised Firm.