Propnology is directly authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under firm reference 650066 to operate as a Property Crowdfunding platform.
The FCA is the financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, and operates independently of the United Kingdom government. It is financed by charging fees to members of the financial services industry.
The FCA regulates financial firms providing services to consumers and maintains the integrity of the UK’s financial markets.
You can view details of our authorisation on the Financial Services Register, which can be found HERE
Direct FCA Authorisation vs. Appointed Representative - which is better?
In the U.K, transactions that involve a financial investment return to investors fall within the scope of its regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For property investment crowdfunding platforms (”CFPs”) to carry out similar regulated activities - i.e. offering unlisted shares in property to investors - firms require either direct authorisation, from the FCA, or are required to become an Appointed Representative (AR) of another firm, which itself, authorised by the FCA.
Should CFPs fail to meet either of these requirements, they are committing a criminal offence and are not able to enforce their agreements with their investors.
Direct FCA Authorisation
Applying for direct authorisation, which is a time consuming operation - typically 6 to 12 months - is a process which requires patience, but a tenacious approach; during this time, a firm is unable to trade.
Being an Appointed Representative;
By becoming an AR of another firm (the ‘principle’), a CFP is able to operate in the same way as a directly authorised business; essentially the CFP 'borrows' some of the principle's permissions as an authorised firm. This also means that the CFP cannot be directly fined or censured by the FCA for any breaches of non-compliance. While there will be monthly commercial fees to take into consideration, such arrangements can be created quickly and with few complications - typically in a matter of weeks. Crucially, the FCA do not interrogate a firm's business model.
It is perhaps cheaper and quicker for a CFP to start out with AR status, but the process should, in our opinion, only be viewed as a short-term solution. By contrast, the main benefit of direct authorisation is that it demonstrates to investors that the firm is one step closer to the regulator, and effectively more rigorous in its operation and security.
Propnology's business model has, from the start, always determined to follow the directly authorised route, as opposed to handing over the power to a third party. We felt this to be a less risky and cumbersome approach to our long-term operations. It has taken the firm some nine months to receive authorisation, granted in August of 2015, at which point the business has been nominally operational for six months. In our experience, the application process, while at times painstakingly slow, was a good exercise in rigorously scrutinising our operational plans and procedures; we believe that it demonstrates that our firm has a sound and robust business model, a view reinforced and endorsed by the FCA’s formal approval.