HM Treasury announced in June 2020 that the deadline by which firms must have concluded their first assessments for Certified Staff under the SMCR would be extended until 31 March 2021 (from 9 December 2020).

The FCA is consulting on whether to extend the deadlines for the Conduct Rules to come into force for Certification Staff, training to be completed and submission of Directory Persons to the Register to the same date.

This is due to firms' resources and efforts having been diverted (or furloughed) due to the pandemic. 

The FCA does say, however, that firms should take the additional time to ensure that they have made changes to ensure "robust controls" for "lasting changes" for "an improved culture within firms".

The FCA says also that a "majority" of firms do not need the additional time and if firms are able to meet the original deadline they should do so.

So the usual warnings about FCA rule delaying announcements apply: (a) things are never as simple as they look; (b) the FCA is likely to expect firms to comply with the original deadline unless they can explain to the FCA why they have not done so ("comply or explain" with the added twist that "explain" will require the FCA to have agreed that the explanation is reasonable); and (c) if a firm does seek to rely on the extension, it will be held to an extremely high standard by the FCA for its outcomes, training, compliance.

Not of course that those which comply by the deadline will not be held to a high standard - so do not rush or cut corners just to meet the original deadline - but if you can meet the standards by the original deadline, I encourage you to consider doing so.