On 28 September 2016, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR) announced a simplification and an accelerated licensing procedure in France for U.K. based financial firms.
A new single point of contact has been introduced for firms that fall within the supervision of both the AMF and the ACPR. U.K. based financial institutions (e.g., investment firms, payment institutions, insurance companies, management companies) wanting to continue benefiting from the European passport regime can take advantage of this programme by setting up licensed institutions in France. In order to expedite the licensing procedure, the French authorities have agreed to accept documents already available in the English language, such as documents that were previously filed and approved by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The AMF and the ACPR have also set up mailboxes dedicated to enquiries on Brexit.
As part of the effort by French regulators to underline the attractiveness of the Paris financial centre, the AMF has also announced the creation of AGILITY, a new “welcome programme” that will offer direction as well as guidance to U.K. based financial firms in navigating the French licensing process.
The AGILITY outreach programme targets management firms and FinTech companies (which can potentially fall within the scope of the AMF supervision). AGILITY includes:
- The 2WeekTicket: management firms and FinTech companies which are able to confirm their licensing obtained from the FCA can apply for a pre-authorisation notice which will be delivered by the AMF within two weeks (the “2WeekTicket”). The notice will enable the firm to immediately make the relevant business decisions, including looking for a suitable office space in France. The final authorisation is delivered within two months from the date the applicant has satisfied all the legal and regulatory requirements.
- Access to English-speaking contact points at the AMF: The advisers will help applicants, for their six first months in France, understand the rules and regulations applicable to their activities.
French regulators are committing to support financial firms with a supervision that is proportionate to their activities, while at the same time giving these firms access to EU jurisdictions through the European passports. The underlying objective is to provide firms with a solid base from where they can innovate and operate throughout Europe.
The new programme is part of a wider effort by French authorities to attract financial institutions and businesses. Following the June referendum in the UK, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced an income tax break for returning expatriates and foreign executives of up to 50 per cent and the right to exclude foreign properties and assets from the calculation of wealth tax for eight years.