2023 has been an exceptionally busy year for Criterion, with the first year at our new office in Edinburgh city centre, and the launch of our draft Model Portfolio Services (MPS) Standards, just two significant milestones. 

Billy Burnside, Criterion Managing Director: 

The publication of our MPS Standards marked a milestone year for Criterion, with this being a new market for us in the Discretionary Fund Management (DFM) space and an entirely new set of Standards. These Standards have the potential to redefine how DFMs and platforms operate, specifically around MI reporting and edit and model rebalancing processes, and we are excited about working with firms as they look to implement the Standards from 2024. Another fantastic achievement for Criterion this year was our Hadrian’s Wall fundraising. The team battled through the elements, walking and cycling a total of 95-miles. This contributed to us having our best fundraising year, raising a total of £10,000 for our charity partner, Waverley Care. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their continued support and engagement throughout the year, which has allowed Criterion to make great progress and deliver for the industry.

Standards updated to support seven-digit FRNs

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that firm reference numbers (FRNs) would likely reach the six-digit limit and begin using seven-digits for newly registered firms. 

Over 20 Standards were amended to support customers making essential changes, ensuring that organisations had the time to implement system updates for the longer numbers to not interrupt day-to-day operations. We also took the opportunity to add optional support for reference numbers from regulatory bodies other than the FCA (for example, offshore jurisdictions) and an optional test indicator that identifies if the reference number is for test purposes.

FCA prepared to act if transfer times are lacking

The STAR accreditation scheme has been awarding firms for the transfer of savings, investments and pensions since 2022.

The initiative continues to grow. Andrew marker, STAR Chair commenting said: 

Delighted the initiative continues to grow. Wonderful to see a ringing endorsement from the FCA and pleased we can help firms meet their consumer duty objectives. In light of the higher standards mandated by the Consumer Duty, prompt and efficient transfers are absolutely crucial for ensuring positive outcomes for consumers. STAR is a way that firms can show they are part of the solution and not part of the problem. Not only that, but it’s the only way firms can effectively showcase their transfer performance to consumers.

In September the FCA reiterated its full support of STAR and shared its plans to link STAR and the new Consumer Duty rules and contacted CEOs and firms as part of its Platform Supervision Strategy:

As a vehicle to standardise and demonstrate reasonable industry transfer times, we expect firms to engage with, (if not already) and continue to, support the principles and FCA Public actions endorsed by STAR initiative. Where firms are reporting poor transfer times in comparison with peers and do not already engage with STAR, we will be enquiring about their justification for non-engagement and will act in the absence of progress on transfer times.

Our challenge raised over £10K for Waverley Care

We undertook the challenge of cycling and walking alongside the iconic, Hadrian’s Wall, to raise money for Waverley Care. The challenge consisted of a 40-mile cycle on day one, followed by a 20-mile hike and finally, a 35-mile cycle to the finish line in Wallsend. 

The efforts of the team and the generosity of donors resulted in over £5,000 raised for Waverley Care, smashing the original target of £3,000. Criterion then matched this amount, bringing the grand total to £10,000

Grant Sugden, CEO of Waverley Care, commenting: 

On behalf of everyone at Waverley Care, I want to say a massive thank you to the team at Criterion. They have taken on a massive challenge walking and cycling the length of Hadrian’s Wall and I’m absolutely bowled over by the amount of money raised. An incredible effort by all involved that will support Waverley Care’s work across Scotland to end HIV transmission by 2030.

New Draft MPS Standards published 

Criterion collaborated with the industry to create and publish Draft MPS Standards. These Standards consist of a comprehensive range of MPS data, as well as process and technical Standards across MI reporting and edit model and rebalance processes. 

These API integration Standards were designed to provide robust support to DFM and platform organisations, to effectively de-risk key actions, to facilitate the expansion of operational processes, and streamline essential tasks through automation. Billy Burnside, Managing Director at Criterion, commenting: 

We are excited about the benefits the launch of the new MPS Standards should bring to the industry. The new MPS Standards have the potential to redefine how DFMs and platforms operate, specifically around MI reporting and model rebalancing. Our Standards will support all industry players to reach new heights of efficiency and performance. Ultimately, both sides will benefit from reduced operational risk as standardised data, and rebalance processes, enable a more scalable, reliable, and extensible operating model across all trading partners. We have benefited from extensive support from both platforms and DFMs, who have worked with us to define these new Standards, and we hope that more organisations see the benefit of what has been delivered by adopting them to help truly transform this important area of the industry.