The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Firm Reference Numbers are assigned to every authorised firm and are used as a unique identifier in the financial services distribution chain.  

Currently, financial service firms are allocated a six-digit Firm Reference Number (FRN) to uniquely identify themselves. However, because of the volume of applications and notifications the FCA receives, this is going to reach the six-digit limit (999999) in 2023. The number of FRNs in use reflects the sheer size of the financial service industry in the UK.  

As a result of the limit being reached, the FCA will soon be implementing a plan to change the allocation of FRNs from six-digits to seven-digits. This is only for newly registered firms, and all firms which have already been assigned a six-digit number will remain the same.  

Since the announcement of these changes in 2020, we have collaborated with our customers to identify which of our Standards will be impacted by the FCA Firm Reference Number changes. This is to ensure that our Standards remain up-to-date, and our customers’ day-to-day operations are unaffected by the change.  

Our Process and Standards Group (comprising of advisers, software suppliers and product and platform providers), agreed the Standards that would be impacted by the FRN changes, and the priority order in which we would make the necessary changes to these Standards.  

Since then, we have been working through these amendments in almost 30 impacted Standards using FRNs. In addition to the increase from six to seven digits, a further 2 new requirements related to FCA Firm Reference Numbers have also been included:  

  1. Addition of support for offshore or regulatory bodies other than the FCA 
  2. Addition of an indicator showing if the FCA Firm Reference Number is being used for test purposes 

The FCA recently made a statement, declaring that it is on track to make the necessary changes to its internal systems to support seven-digits (although a date is yet to be confirmed). We will continue to work behind the scenes to ensure that all impacted Standards are revised and updated to enable our customers to make the necessary changes.