Employment in Financial Services

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01. What is the primary regulatory regime applicable to financial services employees in your jurisdiction?

01. What is the primary regulatory regime applicable to financial services employees in your jurisdiction?

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Financial services employees are primarily subject to general employment law, such as the Employment Contracts Act of 3 July 1978.

Moreover, sectoral collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) also apply. The main concerned joint committees (JCs) are JC No. 309 for stock exchange companies, JC No. 310 for banks and JC No. 341 for banking and investment services intermediaries.

Due to the peculiarities of the financial sector, they are also governed by specific regulations, such as Regulation (EU) No. 468/2014 of the European Central Bank; Directive 2013/36/EU on access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms; Directive 2014/65/EU on markets in financial instruments; the Status and Supervision of Credit Institutions Act of 25 April 2014, the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act of 18 September 2017; and the Supervision of the Financial Sector and on Financial Services Act of 2 August 2002.

Finally, the regulations adopted by supervisory authorities, such as the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), the European Central Bank and the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), apply to the sector. The Belgian Financial Sector Federation (Febelfin) also issues guidelines.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Financial services industry employers and their employees are subject to a multi-layered legal framework, which varies depending on the business activity of the respective institution. In each case, it comprises a patchwork of overarching EU law, local law, and ordinances issued by the regulatory watchdog, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin). Employees are particularly affected by specific remuneration principles targeted at avoiding excessive risk-taking.

Banks and financial services

These providers are subject to the German Banking Act (KWG), with a few exceptions (eg, certain provisions do not apply to some institutions due to the nature of their business (section 2 KWG)). The KWG provides, inter alia, a slightly reduced level of dismissal protection for certain banking employees and sets out rules for an appropriate ratio between variable and fixed annual remuneration for employees and managing directors. Bonuses may not exceed the fixed salary, unless the institution’s shareholders approve an increase of up to twice the fixed salary by qualified majority vote. Further details are set out in the Remuneration Ordinance for Financial Institutions (IVV) issued by BaFin. In addition, banks and financial service providers are under certain prerequisites subject to the EU Capital Requirements Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 575/2013 (CRR) as modified by Regulation (EU) No. 2019/876 of 20 May 2019).

Insurance providers

These are subject to the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/35 (Solvency II Regulation), which applies directly and takes precedence over national law. The Insurance Regulation Act governs regulatory supervision and forms the basis for a BaFin-issued insurance compensation ordinance. Compared to banking’s IVV, this is much broader in scope and only applies when not overridden by rules set out in the Solvency II Regulation.

Investment funds

These are subject to the German Capital Investment Code (KAGB), which provides specific rules on remuneration for employees, as well as Annex II of Directive 2011/61/EU for alternative investment funds and articles 14a, 14b of Directive 2009/65/EC for undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities. There is no BaFin ordinance (comparable to IVV for banks) for this sector yet, although BaFin could be authorised to issue one. Section 37 paragraph 1 KAGB provides that investment funds should establish a remuneration system for certain employees, such as managers, that is consistent with and conducive to a sound and effective risk management system, that does not create incentives to take inappropriate risks, and does not prevent the investment fund from acting dutifully in the best interests of the investment assets.  

Investment firms

Finally, these are subject to a different regulatory regime depending on their size and impact. Larger investment firms are subject to the risk and remuneration regime for banks, while medium-sized investment firms (since June 2021) are subject to the new German Securities Act (WpIG). The Act implements the Investment Firm Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/2034) and is complemented by the Investment Firm Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/2033). Commission Delegated Regulations specify the standards to identify risk-takers, and Guidance by the European Securities and Markets Authority further detail the requirements for sound remuneration policies. BaFin is conducting a public consultation on a remuneration ordinance for investment firms, which is expected to be finalised in late 2022 to early 2023. Small investment firms are only subject to a low level of regulation. Further regulatory rules are set out, inter alia, in the German Securities Trading Act (WpHG) and the Financial Investment Mediation Ordinance, setting out behavioural standards for employees interacting with customers.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The primary regulatory regime applicable to financial services employees in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • Under the Banking Ordinance (BO), the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is responsible for regulating all authorised institutions (banks, restricted-licence banks and deposit-taking companies). In particular, the HKMA needs to ensure that the chief executive, directors, controllers and executive officers of the authorised institutions are “fit and proper”.
  • Under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO), the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is responsible for regulating the securities and futures markets. Employees performing any regulated functions under the SFO must obtain the requisite licence from the SFC. Relevant individuals engaged by the authorised institutions who perform regulated functions (eg, bank staff working in the securities dealing department) are not required to be licensed or registered with the SFC but their names have to be entered in the register maintained by the HKMA.
  • Under the Insurance Ordinance (IO), the Insurance Authority (IA) is responsible for regulating the insurance industry. Employees carrying on a regulated activity under the IO must obtain the requisite licence from the IA.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

The important labour laws that may apply to financial services employees are the:

  • Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (IDA);
  • Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970;
  • Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972;
  • Payment of Bonus Act, 1965;
  • Equal Remuneration Act, 1976;
  • Maternity Benefit Act, 1961;
  • Apprentices Act, 1961;
  • Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923;
  • Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959;
  • The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; and
  • Shops and Establishments Act(s)[1].

In addition, there are financial services regulations in India such as the Banking Regulation Act, 1949; Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934; Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 (and the regulations thereunder); Insurance Act, 1938; Income-tax Act, 1961; and the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (and the regulations thereunder). There are also multiple regulators established under these laws.


[1] State-specific.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

The Financial Supervision Act (Wft).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

All private-sector employers and employees in Singapore are regulated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Legislation such as the Employment Act 1968, the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act 1990, and the Workplace Safety and Health Act 2006 prescribe general employment rights and obligations for both employers and employees, and are supplemented by various tripartite advisories and guidelines. Anti-workplace discrimination legislation is also expected in 2023.

From the perspective of financial services, financial institutions (FIs) and FI employees are regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). FIs are broadly categorised into four sectors: banking, capital markets, insurance, and payments. Statutes specific to each FI sector also apply. These include the Banking Act 1970, Securities and Futures Act 2001, Trust Companies Act 2005, Financial Advisers Act 2001, Insurance Act 1966, and Payment Services Act 2019. These are supplemented by MAS-issued directions, guidelines, codes, practice notes, circulars and policy statements. A new Financial Services and Markets Act 2022 was also passed by Parliament in April 2022, consolidating and enhancing MAS’ powers. It is expected to come into force soon.

Contravening legislation (primary or subsidiary) and directions would generally constitute a criminal offence. Contravening advisories, guidelines, codes and practice notes would not generally constitute a criminal offence, but may result in regulatory or administrative consequences such as reprimands, censures or prohibition orders (in the case of MAS) or other administrative actions, such as a curtailment of work-pass privileges (in the case of MOM) – which is significant as work passes are a requirement for employing foreign nationals in Singapore.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

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Employment law in Switzerland is based mainly on the following sources, set out in order of priority:

  • the Federal Constitution;
  • Cantonal Constitutions;
  • public law, particularly the Federal Act on Work in Industry, Crafts and Commerce (the Labour Act) and five ordinances issued under this Act regulating work, and health and safety conditions;
  • civil law, particularly the Swiss Code of Obligations (CO);
  • collective bargaining agreements, if applicable;
  • individual employment agreements; and
  • usage, custom, doctrine, and case law.

Depending on the regulatory status of the employer and the specific activities of financial services employees, respectively, Swiss financial market laws may also apply. They are, in particular, the Federal banking, financial institutions and insurance supervision regulations.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

In the UK, there are two main regulators responsible for the supervision of financial institutions. These are:

  • The Prudential Regulation Authority (the PRA) – The PRA supervises over 1,500 financial institutions, including banks, building societies, credit unions, insurance companies and major investment firms. It creates policies for these institutions to follow and watches over aspects of their business.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) – The FCA regulates the conduct of approximately 50,000 firms, prudentially supervises 48,000 firms, and sets specific standards for around 18,000 firms.

Some financial institutions are regulated by both the PRA and FCA (dual-regulated). Those financial institutions must comply with rules set down by the PRA in its rulebook (the PRA Rulebook) and by the FCA in its handbook (the FCA Handbook). Other firms are regulated solely by the FCA (solo-regulated) and must comply with the FCA handbook alone. Different rules can apply depending on the nature and size of the firm. The PRA and FCA work closely on certain issues and firms, but the FCA focuses specifically on ensuring fair outcomes for consumers.

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR) sets out how the UK regulators oversee people in businesses supervised and regulated by them, and how those people must act. As the FCA has summarised, “The SM&CR aims to reduce harm to consumers and strengthen market integrity by making individuals more accountable for their conduct and competence” (https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/senior-managers-certification-regime).

SM&CR consists of three elements:

  • The Senior Managers Regime (SMR) – This applies to the most senior people in a firm (senior managers) who perform one or more senior management functions (SMFs). These functions are specified in the PRA Rulebook and the FCA Handbook. Senior managers must be pre-approved by the PRA or FCA before starting their roles. Each senior manager must also have a “Statement of Responsibilities” (that sets out what they are responsible and accountable for), which may include (depending on the firm) certain responsibilities prescribed by the regulator known as “Prescribed Responsibilities”. Every year, senior managers must be certified as fit and proper to carry out their role by their firm.
  • The Certification Regime (CR) – This applies to employees who, because of their role, could pose a risk of significant harm to the firm or its customers, such as employees who offer investment advice (certified staff). For solo-regulated firms, these roles are generally called certification functions. Firms must certify that these employees are fit and proper for their roles both at the outset of their employment and continuously.
  • The Conduct Rules – The Conduct Rules set minimum standards of individual behaviour in financial services in the UK. They apply to almost all employees of a firm. They also include particular rules applicable only to senior managers.

Certain parts of SM&CR apply to particular firms only. This is outside the scope of this note, which sets out the general position under SM&CR.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

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In the United States, there are different regulatory environments, depending on the nature of the employer.

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates the offer and sale of securities, the various obligations of public companies, and the registration and conduct of broker-dealers. The SEC also regulates investment advisers.
  • Every state has its own securities laws, known as Blue Sky Laws. These laws vary from state to state, but most, including New York and California, impose registration requirements on broker-dealers. State laws also require employees of brokers and dealers engaged in securities transactions to register as agents or salespersons.
    • The California Corporate Securities Law of 1968 covers securities offerings in the state of California.
    • The New York General Business Law and the New York Compilations of Codes, Rules and Regulations cover securities offerings in the state of New York.
  • The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a private self-regulatory organisation that oversees exchange markets and brokerage firms and regulates the conduct of broker-dealer member firms.
  • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulates commodities or future brokers and exchanges under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).
  • Banks are regulated by both federal and state regulators, including the Federal Reserve Board, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
  • Commodities or future brokers or exchanges are covered by the CEA and are regulated by the CFTC.
  • The Protocol for Broker Recruiting is an agreement signed by more than 2,000 broker-dealers. This Protocol specifically places limits on the restrictions a signatory firm can place on representatives who move to another signatory firm.

Most states have their own financial regulatory regimes. For example:

  • The New York Department of Financial Services has regulatory authority over banks and certain other financial services entities within the state of New York.
  • The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation has regulatory authority over financial services entities within the state of California.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

02. Are there particular pre-screening measures that need to be taken when engaging a financial services employee?  Does this vary depending on seniority or type of role?  In particular, is there any form of regulator-specified reference that has to be provided by previous employers in the financial services industry?
 

02. Are there particular pre-screening measures that need to be taken when engaging a financial services employee?  Does this vary depending on seniority or type of role?  In particular, is there any form of regulator-specified reference that has to be provided by previous employers in the financial services industry?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Members of management should at all times be of good repute and possess sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to perform their duties (article 91, Directive 2013/36/EU; and article 9, Directive 2014/65/EU).

Anyone in an executive position (i.e. members of the legal administrative body, the effective management and independent controllers) at a financial institution must exclusively be natural persons and must at all times have the necessary professional standing and expertise to perform their duties (article 19, Act of 25 April 2014).

In addition, they must not have been convicted of any of the offences listed in article 20 of the Act of 25 April 2014. This concerns convictions with a professional ban and violations of financial legislation, company codes and insurance law.

The NBB will verify that these persons meet the conditions listed above. Forms for a new appointment, additional elements during the employment, termination of an appointment or renewal of an appointment are available on the NBB website (www.nbb.be). These forms require information mainly regarding education, past financial services experience, training, any criminal or administrative or civil proceedings or investigations, disciplinary decisions, bankruptcy, insolvency, potential conflicts of interest, and time commitments for the new appointment.

The NBB will assess the ability of the person based on five criteria:

  • expertise, covering knowledge, experience and skills;
  • professional repute;
  • independence of mind;
  • time commitment; and
  • collective suitability for the board (ie, to verify whether the expertise within the said body is sufficiently guaranteed, given the person’s knowledge, experience and skills (NBB Fit & Proper Handbook of 22 December 2022, 2:26, p. 16)).

Concerning "N-1" effective managers (managers who exercise direct and decisive influence over the management of the institution, but who are not members of the management committee) other than branch managers, the supervisory authority does not have to authorise them (NBB Fit & Proper Handbook of 22 December 2022, 2:9, p. 14). This does not mean that these persons must not have the required expertise and professional reputation, but only that the NBB will not conduct an assessment.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Different notification procedures exist before employees may take up their roles.

Investment firms may only entrust employees to provide investment advice if they are knowledgeable and have demonstrated the required reliability – as evidenced, inter alia, by not having a relevant and unspent prior criminal record. Furthermore, such employees’ identities must be disclosed to BaFin before they commence their activities. The active registration of employees is intended to impart upon employers the significance of employee selection and responsibility for their decisions.

Representatives of regulated entities of the financial services sector (typically, members of management) must be approved by BaFin before they can take up their role (colloquially known as BaFin’s “driver’s licence”). To obtain approval, a request must be filed with BaFin, showing the experience and suitability of the candidate for the role. Depending on the financial services delivered by the company, information that must be filed include the following:

  • a CV (including information on professional training, career, and references);
  • information on reliability (a form or summary to be completed by the manager, including, for example, mandatory declarations on prior criminal or administrative offences);
  • a "certificate of good conduct for submission to an authority", a "European certificate of good conduct for submission to an authority", or "corresponding documents" from abroad (depending on the countries of residence in the last 10 years);
  • an extract from the central commercial register;
  • an overview of other mandates as a managing director or in administrative and supervisory bodies; and
  • information about the manager’s ability to dedicate sufficient time to the role.

Non-management employees responsible for specific key functions at an insurance provider are subject to a similar notification process. Further, financial services employers must perform a risk analysis under the Anti-Money Laundering Act and take internal security measures, which also includes assessing the reliability of employees.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

There are no particular pre-screening measures specified by the financial regulators in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, financial institutions would generally conduct background checks on prospective employees (especially those taking on senior positions) to ensure they comply with the “fit and proper” requirements of the financial regulators.

There is no particular form of regulator-specified reference to be provided by previous employers in the financial services industry. Nevertheless, the SFC has specified disclosure obligations for licensed corporations in respect of outgoing employees who were subject to internal investigations (see question 10).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

The pre-screening measures, when employing a financial service employee, are carried out in compliance with the frameworks laid down by the respective industry regulators. For instance, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central banking sector regulator in India, periodically issues certain guidelines for banking and non-banking employers to conduct mandatory employee background checks. These regulators also recognise certain “Self-Regulatory Organisations” (SROs), who then play the primary role in conducting grassroots verifications. SROs conduct character and antecedent verification of employees registered with them as per the standards set by the regulator. Strict police verification of at least the last two addresses is usually mandated and verifications are periodically updated and shared on a common database at an industry level. For instance, the Finance Industry Development Council is an SRO of Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) and is registered with the RBI.

A financial services employer should be sensitive to the data being used for pre-screening measures as India protects individual privacy. Hence, both the employer and the service provider engaged by the employer should obtain prior consent from the prospective employee before pre-screening. If the pre-screening measures include the collection of “sensitive personal data information[1]”, then an employer must seek the individual’s consent, which would also help mitigate risks for any claims concerning the invasion of an employee’s privacy. Employers should ideally ensure that pre-screening is complete before the employee is hired. A comprehensive pre-screening will include verification of educational qualifications, checks with past employers, verification of residential addresses, police records, and passport status. Usually, with seniority of the role, checks with past employers happen more rigorously, while for entry-level employees, checks with academic institutions about educational qualifications may be done more rigorously. Similar standards must be met by contract employees empanelled by the service providers.

There is no regulator-specified reference that must be provided by previous employers in the financial services industry. However, in practice, most public sector banks (eg, Bank of India) and many central public sector undertakings in financial services (eg, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)), as per their selection or onboarding protocols, require at least two “Character Certificates”, one of which should be from the head of the educational institution last attended or the present employer and the other should be from gazetted officers[2] or bank officers, without any familial ties to the employee.


[1] Information Technology Act, 2000 & Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules 2011.

[2] A ‘gazetted officer’ is a high rank government official working as an officer for the government of India or any state government whose name and credentials are published in the Gazette of India.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

The pre-screening measures to be taken are outlined below.

Banking oath

Persons who want to work in the financial services industry (eg, banks, insurers, and pension funds) must take the banking oath before employment pursuant to article 3:17b paragraph 1 and 2 of the Wft, and article 4:15a paragraph 1 and 2 of the Financial Industry Oath or Promise Regulations 2015.

Pre Employment Screening

Pre-employment screening (PES) is a background check before an employee is allowed to join an employer. Almost all banks and financial institutions (or companies) require a PES screening.[1]

Suitability and reliability test for supervisors and daily policymakers or directors

Internal supervisors, daily policymakers or directors and other persons of financial institutions mentioned in the law must also take the suitability and reliability test under article 3.8 paragraph 1 Wft and article 4:9 paragraph 1 Wft. The test takes place if there is a proposed appointment of (for example) a director or supervisor. Depending on the type of financial institution, the test is performed by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) or the Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM).

The director or supervisor is not allowed to take their position until he or she has passed the test, because the suitability assessment is linked to the position and takes place before each appointment. This also applies if an already tested director or supervisor changes positions or duties within an institution. On the other hand, a reliability test is in principle a one-off.


[1] Financial institutions also refers to financial companies in the financial services industry.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Pre-screening measures are only required if the FI employee is going to be involved in the provision of financial services (or other MAS-regulated activities).

Such employees need to pass a fit-and-proper assessment, referring to the MAS Guidelines on Fit and Proper Criteria. Criteria to be considered include the employee’s honesty, integrity and reputation; competence and capability; and financial soundness.

In considering the employee’s honesty, integrity and reputation, relevant factors include whether the employee has been the subject of proceedings or investigations (whether criminal or disciplinary) or has been dismissed or asked to resign. MAS’ Circular CMI 01/2011 also sets out MAS’ expectations on due diligence checks, declarations and documentation concerning employees who are expected to be representatives of specific FIs. Among other things, this entails conducting reference checks with the previous employers of the FI’s proposed employees.

It is worth noting that MAS published a consultation paper in May 2021 seeking to address problems arising from the recycling of “bad apples” through the FIs. In that paper, MAS proposed mandatory requirements for reference checks; and responses to those checks based on a set of minimum mandatory information to be provided within a specified period. This proposal is still in its consultation phase, and will be worth watching.

For more senior roles (eg, senior managers, material risk personnel, directors, committee members, chairpersons and key executives), FIs are expected to ensure that they are fit and proper for their roles. MAS’ prior approval may also have to be obtained or notices may have to be made, depending on the licence, registration and role sought. FIs in these sectors are expected to conduct more rigorous checks before seeking MAS’ approval or submitting a notice, with a greater emphasis on considering circumstances that may give rise to a conflict of interest.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

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  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Under Swiss civil law, there is no requirement to apply pre-screening measures. However, while not a statutory requirement under Swiss financial market laws per se, companies subject to these laws apply pre-screening measures to ensure that a prospective financial services employee meets the requirements set forth by these laws. In particular, regulated companies such as banks, securities firms, insurance companies, fund management companies, managers of collective investment schemes and asset managers are required to obtain authorisation from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) relating to strategic and executive management and each change thereto.

As a general rule, the higher the responsibility or position of a person, the more requirements financial services employees may need to fulfil. Persons holding executive or overall management functions (eg, a member of the board or members of the senior management) are required to fulfil certain requirements set forth by the applicable Swiss financial market regulations. Such requirements may include providing current CVs showing relevant work experience and education as well as excerpts from the debt and criminal register. It may also include providing various declarations (eg, concerning pending and concluded proceedings, qualified participations and other mandates). Furthermore, financial services employees holding certain control functions (eg, compliance officer, risk officer and their deputies) may also be required to prove that they are suitable for the position by providing, for example, a current CV showing relevant work experience and education.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

For employees subject to the SMR, anyone performing an SMF must be pre-approved by the relevant regulator before they can start their role. Generally, firms that wish to employ a senior manager must first carry out sufficient due diligence to satisfy themselves that the candidate is a fit and proper person to perform their proposed functions. In this regard, firms must consider the individual’s qualifications, training, competency and personal characteristics. The firm must also carry out a criminal records check. They may then apply to the relevant regulator for that candidate’s pre-approval. In the firm’s application, all matters relating to the candidate’s fitness and propriety must be disclosed. The firm must also enclose a statement of that individual’s proposed responsibilities and (depending on the firm) the latest version of the firm’s management responsibilities map.

For employees subject to the CR, before the appointment and annually thereafter, these employees must be certified by the employing SM&CR firm as being fit and proper. Certification does not involve pre-approval by the FCA or PRA.

Additionally, firms must comply with the regulatory reference rules for all candidates subject to either the SMR or CR before their employment. These rules require employing firms to request a regulatory reference from all previous employers covering the past six years of employment. Information must be shared between regulated firms using a particular template, which includes information relevant to assessing whether a candidate is fit and proper. Firms are also expected to retain records of disciplinary and fit and proper findings going back six years for their employees (or longer for findings of gross misconduct), and they must update regulatory references that they have previously given where new significant information comes to light that would impact the content of a previously given regulatory reference.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

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In addition to the standard hiring measures that must be taken when engaging an employee, several additional steps must be taken when engaging financial services employees in the United States. Generally, financial services employees must pass certain screening and disclosure steps, including:

  • background checks;
  • criminal background disclosures; and
  • fingerprinting.

Broker-dealers and investment advisors must register with FINRA (see below).

Background checks

FINRA-regulated entities must investigate each person they plan to register with FINRA to ensure that they meet FINRA Form U4 requirements regarding that person’s history of formal charges and indictments.

If the applicant has previously registered with FINRA, broker-dealers must also review an applicant’s most recent Form U5 or be able to demonstrate to FINRA that it has made reasonable efforts to review Form U5 but has been unable to do so. If the applicant has previously registered with a CFTC-registered firm, the broker-dealer must review CFTC Form 8-T.

Bank employees must undergo a background check. Certain criminal conduct may statutorily disqualify an applicant from employment. For example, federal law prohibits any person convicted of a criminal offence involving dishonesty or breach of trust (or who has entered into a pre-trial diversion or similar programme regarding such an offence) from serving as a director, officer, or employee of an FDIC-insured bank without the FDIC's consent. Banks must conduct reasonable inquiries into an applicant’s background to avoid hiring persons barred from employment by this law. Banks may be protected from claims of disparate impact (under state “ban-the-box” laws) when terminating or withdrawing offers from disqualified employees under this law. Both California and New York explicitly provide such carve-outs. However, these are position-specific rather than employer-specific, and employees with positions not subject to FINRA or other statutorily required background checks or disqualifiers based on criminal history may still be subject to state or local “fair chance” or ban-the-box laws. Therefore, as a best practice, non-bank financial services employers should avoid relying on these exceptions for all of their employees. Relatedly, the FDIC does not consider “de minimus” criminal violations disqualifying, including minor offences by young adults, bad cheques for less than $1,000 and simple theft of less than $500.

Fingerprinting

Entities covered by the SEC are also subject to fingerprinting requirements. Every member of a national securities exchange, broker, dealer, registered transfer agent, registered clearing agency, registered securities information processor, national securities exchange, and national securities association must ensure that each of its partners, directors, officers, and employees are fingerprinted and must submit such fingerprints, or cause the same to be submitted, to the Attorney General of the United States for identification and appropriate processing. Employees who will not be selling, keeping, or handling securities or supervising those who do are exempt from this requirement.

While New York generally prohibits fingerprinting, there is an exception where, as here, fingerprinting is statutorily required.

California Financing Law requires fingerprinting for certain individuals seeking to license in California.

Please note, during the COVID-19 epidemic, the SEC temporarily paused the fingerprinting requirements. This pause was lifted in September 2022.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

03. What documents should be put in place when engaging employees within the financial services industry?  Are any particular contractual documents required?
 

03. What documents should be put in place when engaging employees within the financial services industry?  Are any particular contractual documents required?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Regarding anyone in an executive position (i.e. members of the legal administrative body, the effective management and independent controllers) at a financial institution, it is necessary to use the forms provided by the NBB to ensure that they are “fit and proper” and are authorised by the NBB (see question 2).

It is also recommended to foresee restrictive covenants in the employment contract, such as confidentiality, other professional activities, non-solicitation, non-competition and intellectual property provisions.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

German law does not treat financial services employees differently from employees of other industries, in that an employment agreement does not necessarily have to be in writing to come into existence. It is, however, common (best) practice and highly recommended for risk mitigation and transparency reasons that parties enter into a written employment agreement. For some provisions to be valid, such as a post-contractual non-compete or a fixed-term agreement, a qualified electronic or wet-ink signature is mandatory.

Further, employers must also provide employees with a wet-ink signed certification document summarising the essential conditions of employment under the German Evidence Act. Failure to provide such a document does not render the employment contract invalid, but a breach of the documentation requirement constitutes an administrative offence that may trigger fines.

Remuneration is typically governed under the employment contract and references a firm’s remuneration policy, which must be put in place for regular staff as well as identified risk-takers, with a dedicated set of rules varying per industry sub-sector.

Finally, depending on the case, certain documentation may need to be filed with BaFin before an employee can take up their tasks (see question 2).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

In addition to an employment contract, there are additional documentation requirements in connection with the application or transfer of the employee’s licence with the financial regulators.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

When engaging employees within the financial services industry, documents covering past employment, educational qualifications, certificates of achievement, income tax returns, medical health fitness certificates attested by a registered doctor, official identity cards and proof of address (Aadhar Card and Voter ID card, Driving Licence or Passport) and documentation for anything mentioned on a curriculum vitae. In the financial services industry, certificates showing excellence in finance-related services will increase the candidature of a potential employee. The contract of employment of an employer usually contains clauses that make the offer conditional upon the fulfilment of the employee's representations relating to educational qualifications, background, work experience, skill certifications (if applicable), character certificate, etc.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

Besides entering into an employment contract with a bank or other financial institution, an employee must apply for a Certificate of Conduct (VOG) from the screening authority of the Ministry of Justice and Security. A VOG is a statement that shows that the judicial record of a person or legal entity is not an obstacle to the position or purpose for which the VOG is requested.

An employee in the financial industry must also provide the standard documents, such as a copy of their passport and payroll tax statement.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Reference checks, declarations and other documentation to ensure that the employee is a fit and proper person should be requested. In addition, notices to MAS or MAS’ approval may be required for more senior roles (see question 2).

There should also be an employment contract in place, addressing matters such as individual licences (where required) and continued compliance with all applicable MAS guidelines, notices, advisories and regulations. In drafting these contracts, FIs should take into account MAS’ Guidelines and Advisories, including the Guidelines on Fit and Proper Criteria, Individual Accountability and Conduct, and (where relevant) Risk Management Practices – Board and Senior Management. Robust confidentiality obligations and other restrictive covenants are also commonplace.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

No special contractual documents are required when engaging employees within the financial services industry.

However, it is generally recommended to conclude a written employment contract with each employee. FINMA, for instance, requires a copy of employment contracts concluded with senior management of regulated entities.
In particular, the employment contract should reference the employer’s (regulatory) set of directions and the employee’s obligation to comply with said instructions. In addition, because regulated companies such as banks, securities firms, fund management companies, managers of collective assets or asset managers are required to obtain authorisation from FINMA before the engagement of key personnel, it may be sensible to include a condition precedent relating to FINMA’s acceptance of the relevant employee in the employment contract.

The mandatory, partially mandatory, and optional elements of an individual employment contract are outlined in article 319 et seq of the CO (in particular regarding remuneration, working time, vacation, and incapacity for work). Further regulations may apply based on collective bargaining agreements.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

As a matter of general UK employment law, employers must give employees written particulars of certain terms and conditions of employment. This is known as a “section 1 statement” after section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which sets out the mandatory information that employers must give to employees no later than the first day of their employment. This includes fundamental information such as the names of the employer and employee; the date of commencement of employment; the rates and timing of pay; and working hours. Other prescribed particulars (such as information regarding pensions, collective agreements and training) can be provided to employees in instalments within two months of commencement of employment. Typically, a written employment contract will contain the relevant information to satisfy these requirements.

Financial services employers should ensure that, in addition, their employment contracts reinforce the requirements of SM&CR. This will help the employer manage the employment relationship in a manner compliant with SM&CR and demonstrate to the relevant regulators the employer’s commitment to compliance with SM&CR. The employment contract will usually include, therefore, additional provisions regarding the completion of SM&CR-compliant background checks; confirmation of the employee’s regulated function (eg, their SMF or certification function); required regulatory standards of conduct; cooperation with fitness and propriety assessments; and tailored termination events.

In addition, all senior managers must have a statement of responsibility setting out their role and responsibilities. Certain firms must also allocate certain regulator-prescribed responsibilities (prescribed responsibilities) among senior managers. It is common to set out a senior manager’s regulatory responsibilities in their employment contract.

Dual-regulated firms must also ensure that individuals approved to carry out a PRA-designated SMF are subject to any specific contractual requirements required by the PRA. For example, depending on the type of firm, a firm may be required to ensure that the relevant individual is contractually required to comply with certain standards of conduct, such as to act with integrity and with due care and skill (among other requirements).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

FINRA

Broker-dealers and investment advisors regulated by FINRA must electronically file FINRA’s Form U4 when registering “associated persons” with FINRA or transferring their registration to another broker-dealer. Broker-dealers must also create and implement written procedures to verify the facts disclosed by prospective employees on the U4.

  • “Associated persons” include employees of all levels involved with investment and securities operations.
  • The U4 form requires disclosure of the associated person’s background history, including any criminal convictions or civil actions, regulatory proceedings or sanctions, administrative proceedings, financial disclosures (such as bankruptcy), customer complaints, or arbitration awards.

Form U4 also contains an agreement requiring employees to submit to arbitration “any dispute, claim or controversy that may arise between [them and their] firm, or a customer, or any other person…”

Member firms must provide registered employees with an arbitration disclosure when asked to sign a U4.

SEC

SEC-regulated entities require every prospective employee to complete a questionnaire disclosing their identifying information, employment history, and record of any disciplinary actions, denial or suspension of membership of registration, criminal record, or any record of civil action against that employee. FINRA form U4, if completed, fulfils the requirements of this Rule.

California

California employees must be provided with:

  • A notice of workers’ compensation rights;
  • notice of disability insurance and paid family leave insurance benefits;
  • sexual harassment information under the Fair Employment and Housing Act;
  • notice of pay information (if applicable);
  • commission contract (if applicable);
  • notice of rights for victims of crime or abuse; and
  • lactation accommodation policy

New York

New York employees must be provided with:

  • notice of pay rate and pay days;
  • commissions Agreement (if applicable);
  • New York Health and Essential Rights Act;
  • notice of electronic monitoring;
  • New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Statement of Rights – Disability Benefits Law;
  • New York State Paid Family Leave Statement of Rights;
  • New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (City only);
  • New York City Stop Sexual Harassment Act fact sheet (City only); and
  • New York City Pregnancy Accommodations at Work fact sheet (City only).
Last updated on 22/01/2023

04. Do any categories of employee need to have special certification in order to undertake duties for financial services employers?  If so, what are the requirements that apply?
 

04. Do any categories of employee need to have special certification in order to undertake duties for financial services employers?  If so, what are the requirements that apply?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Anyone in an executive position (i.e. members of the legal administrative body, the effective management and independent controllers) at a financial institution must, at all times, have the necessary professional standing and expertise to perform their duties.

This will be assessed by the NBB through standard forms to complete if there is a new appointment, new elements during employment, termination of appointment or renewal of appointment.

"N-1" effective managers must meet the same criteria, but authorisation by the NBB is not necessary (see question 2).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Taking on certain tasks requires prior proof of competence, which varies depending on the financial services sector and the role. As an example, investment services must notify BaFin of investment advisors, sales representatives, and compliance officers, who in each case must be knowledgeable and reliable, and whose expertise must be reviewed at least annually (section 87, WpHG and the corresponding Employee Notification Ordinance). Institutions must deliver proof of professional suitability (ie, sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge of the relevant business and management experience) and reliability for certain key employees, managing directors, and members of the supervisory or administrative board (sections 25c paragraph 1 and 25d paragraph 1 KWG, sections 20 and 21 WpIG).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

SFC

The “Guidelines on Competence” published by the SFC lists the necessary qualifications for employees carrying on regulated activities. For academic qualifications, employees should attain at least Level 2 in either English or Chinese as well as in Mathematics in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education or equivalent. In addition, employees are expected to obtain recognised industry qualifications and pass the local regulatory framework paper. For responsible officers (ROs), the SFC requires higher levels of educational qualifications and experience.

IA

The “Guideline on ‘Fit and Proper’ Criteria for Licensed Insurance Intermediaries Under the Insurance Ordinance” published by the IA sets out the education requirements for licenced employees under the IO. Higher levels of educational qualifications are required for responsible officers.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

The recruitment of financial services employees for public-sector enterprises may be done through competitive scores secured through multi-level tests held for generalist and specialist posts. For instance, the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection conducts tests for selection for public sector banks; and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), LIC, etc, hold similar tests for their recruitment.

In terms of industry practice, eligibility to appear at the preliminary levels or the final interview stages of the above tests may sometimes require certain specific certifications (eg, computer certifications for clerical posts in the banking sector. These certifications are prescribed by industry regulators and are actioned by industry collectives. For instance, the RBI[1] has made it mandatory for all banking and non-banking financial institutions to obtain certification for their employees. Industry collective the Indian Banking Association provides such certifications in specific areas like treasury operations, risk management, accounting and credit management. Along with this, further certifications may also be required for Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), compliance with foreign exchange regulations, awareness of legal aspects of cyber security, etc.[2]

Similarly, the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), an institute promoted by SEBI, accredits institutions that coach and certify wealth management advisors. NISM-accredited qualifications are compulsory for wealth managers in the capital market segment. Also, the Indian Institute of Banking and Finance (IIBF) gives certification for Debt Recovery Agents based on RBI guidelines. Various collectives like the Fixed Income Money Market and Derivatives Association of India, Foreign Exchange Dealers Association of India and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, inter alia, collaborate with the IIBF in the certification process in the treasury, forex and compliance sectors. The IIBF’s certification for customer service, KYC/AML programmes of the IIBF, and other similar certified courses from the NISM/AMFI/IRDA etc, are essential before hiring employees for certain specialised roles.

As part of the registration process, some SEBI regulations relating to portfolio managers and investment advisors require certain specific employees to be employed with minimum qualifications.

 

[1] Capacity Building in Banks and AIFIs, August 11, 2016 available at < https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/NOTI36A5A106C515E84422947AB1D42F6EB391.PDF>; IBA Circular no. CIR/HR&IR/KSC/2017-18/2602.

[2]RBI mandate on capacity building in banks, KPMG, available at <https://home.kpmg/in/en/home/services/learning-academy/aas-learning-solutions/rbi-mandate-capacity-building-banks.html>

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

Some positions in the financial industry do require a completed college degree, preferably related to the financial industry such as business economics or econometrics. A legal background is also possible. Education (or training) depends on the position. However, rules regarding the professional competence of employees and certain diplomas or certificates required may be laid down by order in the council.

However, Wft training is often required. Wft training is usually offered by financial institutions to obtain a so-called Wft certification. During this training, the employee learns about the financial market, laws and regulations, banking and insurance, and general financial skills.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Representatives, senior management employees and other office holders may require MAS’ approval prior to an appointment or assuming an office (see question 2).

In particular, MAS must be notified of the appointment of representatives providing financial advisory services under the Financial Advisers Act 2001 or carrying out regulated activities under the Securities and Futures Act 2001 (dealing in capital markets products, advising on corporate finance, fund and REIT management, product financing, providing credit ratings or custodial services). With some exceptions, they must be at least 21 years old, satisfy minimum academic qualification requirements, and complete prescribed modules of the Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services examinations.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Depending on the status of the employing entity and the position of the financial services employee, a special certification or, more generally, proof of relevant work experience and sufficient education is required.

As a general rule, persons holding executive, overall management, oversight or control functions (eg, a member of the board, CEO, compliance officer, risk officer or their deputies) in regulated companies such as banks, insurance companies, securities firms, fund management companies, managers of collective assets or asset managers are required to demonstrate to FINMA that they have sufficient relevant work experience and education. As proof, FINMA requests current CVs, diplomas, certifications and contact details of references. The scope and nature of the future business activity and the size and complexity of the company in question also need to be considered.

Furthermore, client advisers of so-called financial service providers (eg, investment advisers) must have sufficient expertise on the code of conduct and the necessary expertise required to perform their work. Client advisors often prove that these requirements have been met by successfully attending special courses. In addition, insurance intermediaries registered with FINMA’s insurance intermediary register have to prove that they have undergone sufficient education and have sufficient qualifications. For this purpose, FINMA has published a list of different Swiss and foreign educational qualifications deemed to be sufficient on its website.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

See question 2.

All individuals performing an SMF, as classified by the FCA or PRA, will be subject to the SMR. SMFs are described in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) as functions that require the person performing them to be responsible for managing one or more aspects of a firm’s affairs authorised by the FSMA, and those aspects involve, or might involve, a risk of serious consequences for the firm or business or other interests in the UK. As noted, any individual performing an SMF will need to be pre-approved by the relevant regulator before they can start their role, and thereafter they must be certified as fit and proper by their firm annually. Applications to the regulator for pre-approval must disclose all matters relating to a candidate’s fitness and propriety and be accompanied by a statement of responsibilities. Firms must carry out a criminal records check as part of the application for approval.

Additionally, employees of firms who are not senior managers but who, because of their role, could still pose a risk of significant harm to the firm or any of its customers, may be subject to the CR. The certification functions that place an employee within the ambit of the CR are different under the rules of the FCA and the PRA but include persons such as those dealing with clients or those subject to qualification requirements. These employees must be certified by their firm as fit and proper for their roles both at the outset of their employment and on an annual basis thereafter (certified staff). Firms are not required to carry out criminal records checks for certified staff, but firms can choose to do so to the extent it is lawful.

The regulators have set out detailed guidance for firms to consider when assessing an individual’s fitness and propriety. This includes assessing an individual’s honesty, integrity and reputation; competence and capability; and financial soundness.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

For an individual’s FINRA registration to become effective, they must pass the Securities Industries Essentials examination. FINRA rules also require registered persons to participate in continuing education courses. Failure to do so may result in a covered person’s registration being deemed inactive until the requirement has been satisfied.

California Financing Law requires the licensing and regulation of finance lenders and brokers making and brokering consumer and commercial loans, unless exempt.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

05. Do any categories of employee have enhanced responsibilities under the applicable regulatory regime?
 

05. Do any categories of employee have enhanced responsibilities under the applicable regulatory regime?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Anyone in an executive position (i.e. members of the legal administrative body, the effective management and independent controllers) at a financial institution is the first person responsible if there is any offence or fault.

The Act of 25 April 2014 expressly states that the legal administrative body assumes overall responsibility for the credit institution (article 23).

In the framework for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, financial institutions must designate, from among their administrative body or management, the person responsible, at the highest level, for ensuring the implementation of and compliance with the provisions of the legislation (article 9, Act of 18 September 2017).

Members of the legal administrative body (both in its management, policy or strategy and supervisory functions) must have an appropriate understanding of, and contribute to, the areas of activity for which they are collectively responsible, with other members of the legal governing body, even if an individual member is given exclusive responsibility for specific areas. As a result, a member of the legal governing body who holds or held a position in the financial institution at the time the facts giving rise to certain findings (eg, money laundering, fraud, or other findings arising from on-site inspections or legal proceedings) occurred may be held responsible for those findings, even if there is no link between his or her roles and responsibilities on the legal governing body and the findings in question (NBB Fit & Proper Handbook of 22 December 2022, 2:169 – 2.171, p. 39).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Employees who qualify as risk-takers have enhanced responsibilities due to their influence on an institution’s risk profile, including documentation requirements. Investment brokers advising private clients are also subject to strict rules and extensive documentation requirements, inter alia, on the investment advice provided and how the investment was tailored to the preferences, investment objectives, and other characteristics of the investor.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Under the SFO, ROs have enhanced responsibilities. They assume primary responsibility for compliance at a licensed corporation and are involved in supervising the regulated activities. A licensed corporation is required to appoint no less than two ROs to directly supervise the conduct of each regulated activity. Similarly, under the BO, registered institutions are required to appoint no less than two executive officers to be responsible for directly supervising the conduct of each regulated activity under the SFO. For each regulated activity, at least one RO must be available at all times to supervise the business and must be an executive director.

Under the IO, an RO of a licensed insurance agency or licensed insurance broker company has enhanced responsibilities. Responsible officers must use their best endeavours to ensure the agency or broker has established and maintains proper controls and procedures for securing compliance with the conduct requirements under the IO.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

There are no provisions that lay down enhanced responsibilities for a particular category of employees in the financial services sector.

However, the conduct rules for employees in the financial sector mandate them to adhere to higher standards of code of conduct and self-discipline. Their codes of conduct include inter alia anti-bribery obligations, prohibition from accepting gifts in an official capacity, making representations to media, making contribution to political parties, holding demonstration against public interest, exercising undue influence to secure appointments of family members at same organisation or granting banking facilities without permission. They are supposed to observe secrecy in general and specifically, maintain financial secrecy about stocks too.

This question was upheld in Harinarayan Seet v. Andhra Bank[1], wherein the Andhra Pradesh High Court recognised that banking sector employees are mandated to exhibit higher standards of honesty, integrity, devotion and diligence and any failure to discharge such duty with diligence may trigger dismissal.


[1] WP No. 23310 of 2011.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

It is not explicitly stipulated in the law what increased responsibilities certain categories of employees have. The suitability and reliability test for directors and supervisors does show (implicitly) under the law that they have increased responsibilities.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Employees who are managers and executives or above generally have enhanced responsibilities, particularly regarding corporate governance.

MAS’ Guidelines on Individual Accountability and Conduct provide that senior managers (ie, those principally responsible for day-to-day management) should be clearly identified, fit and proper for their roles, and responsible for the actions of employees and the conduct of the business under their purview. As for material risk personnel (ie, individuals who have the authority to make decisions or conduct activities that can significantly impact the FI’s safety and soundness, or cause harm to a significant segment of the FI’s customers or other stakeholders), they should be fit and proper for their roles, and subject to effective risk governance, appropriate incentive structures, and standards of conduct.

Subsidiary legislation or other MAS guidelines specific to the FI’s sector also contain corporate governance regulations, prescribing responsibilities to the board of directors, nominating committees, or senior management.

MAS’ Guidelines on Risk Management Practices – Board and Senior Management further states that an FI’s board and senior management are responsible for governing risk within an institution. This includes setting up appropriate risk management systems, stress-testing programmes and business contingency plans.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Specifically, employees holding executive, overall management, oversight or control functions in regulated companies are responsible for ensuring that the companies’ organization ensures the continued compliance with applicable financial market laws. Swiss financial market laws do not have enhanced responsibilities for different employee categories. Instead, a person’s fitness and propriety are assessed within the context of the specific requirements and functions of a given company, the scope of activities at that company, and the complexity of that company.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Every senior manager under the SMR has a “duty of responsibility” concerning the areas for which they are responsible. If a firm breaches a regulatory requirement, the senior manager responsible for the area relevant to the breach could be held accountable for the breach if they failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or stop the breach.

In addition, for most firms, the FCA requires that certain responsibilities – “prescribed responsibilities” – are allocated to appropriate senior managers. These responsibilities cover key conduct and prudential risks. They include, among others, responsibility for a firm’s performance of its obligations under the SMR; responsibility for a firm’s performance of its obligations under the CR; and responsibility for a firm’s obligations around conduct rules training and reporting. Firms must give careful thought to the best person to allocate each prescribed responsibility.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

While there are certain responsibilities for financial employees, such as being able to pass applicable certifications (see question 4) or registering with certain entities (see question 6), the American regulatory system does not include statutory delineations that create enhanced responsibilities for certain categories of employees.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

06. Is there a register of financial services employees that individuals will need to be listed on to undertake particular business activities?  If so, what are the steps required for registration?

06. Is there a register of financial services employees that individuals will need to be listed on to undertake particular business activities?  If so, what are the steps required for registration?

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

There is no list of financial services employees as such, but the NBB will assess, among others, the experience and the credibility of the person when granting the “fit and proper” authorisation.

This concerns anyone in an executive position (i.e. members of the legal administrative body, the effective management and independent controllers) at a financial institution (see question 2).

However, it should be noted that financial services institutions approved by the NBB are listed on its website. Moreover, banking and investment services intermediaries must be registered and file through an online application to the FSMA (www.fsma.be) documents attesting, inter alia, their knowledge, clean criminal record, and professional liability insurance.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Yes. Investment firms must disclose the identities of employees providing investment advice, as well as sales representatives and compliance officers, to BaFin, which maintains a non-public database of registered employees (section 87 WpHG).

As a first step of the registration process, companies need to register on the MVP notification and publication platform. After successful registration, they can apply for admission to the employee and complaints register. Different notification procedures are available, depending on whether employees are notified for the first time or amendments are being made.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

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  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The HKMA, SFC and IA each have a register for licensed employees to be listed on to undertake regulated activities:

  • HKMA – the register of securities staff of authorised institutions is available on the HKMA’s website[1]. For registration, the names and particulars of the relevant individuals are required to be submitted to the HKMA for inclusion on the HKMA Register.
  • SFC – the register of licensed persons is available on the SFC’s website[2]. For registration, individual applicants would need to submit an electronic application to the SFC through its online platform. When there is a change of employment, the licensed representative may apply for a transfer of accreditation through SFC’s online platform within 180 days after the cessation of the previous employment. It takes approximately seven business days to process an application for transfer of accreditation to carry on the same types of regulated activity for which the licensed representative was licensed immediately before the cessation.
  • IA – the register of licensed insurance intermediaries is available on the IA’s website[3]. For registration, applicants can submit their licence applications to the IA by paper submission or electronic submission via an online portal.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

There is no one-point register for financial services employees that individuals need to be listed on to undertake business activities. Such a register may vary depending upon the industry one is seeking and whether the post is that of a specialist or a generalist. Specialists like IT professionals, lawyers etc., working in financial services are bound by registration requirements mandated by the practice rules of their domains. For example, IT or ITES industry professionals may register themselves with the “National Skills Registry”[1], an initiative of the trade body NASSCOM. This registry maintains a central database of their qualifications, experiences and demographic information. NASSCOM also runs a BFSI Sectoral Skill Council (BFSI SSC) to cater to the financial services sector. The National Institute of Securities Market (NISM) Skills Registry is another similar initiative by the NISM.

[1] FAQs on Understanding NSR, available at <https://nationalskillsregistry.com/faq-understanding-nsr.htm>

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

There is no register for employees. But a company (employer) must have a licence to provide financial services. To obtain a licence, a company must meet several requirements included in the Wft. DNB and the AFM issue the licence on behalf of the minister of finance. The company is then added to the register of licensed financial institutions (AFM register of financial service providers).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

The MAS keeps a register of appointed representatives conducting regulated activities under the Securities and Futures Act 2001 (see question 4) or providing financial advisory services under the Financial Advisers Act 2001. The register is updated based on an FI’s notifications of appointment to the MAS, with prerequisites applying to the appointment of such representatives (see question 4).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

There is no universal register of all financial services employees. Rather, different Swiss financial market laws provide for a registration requirement that may apply to individual financial service employees. Whether a particular financial market law, and, consequently, a registration requirement, applies to a financial services employee depends specifically on the regulatory status of the employing entity and the particular activity of that employee.

Also, client advisers of Swiss or foreign financial service providers (eg, investment advisers) may be required to register with the adviser register, unless an exemption applies. Client advisers are the natural persons who perform financial services on behalf of a financial service provider or in their own capacity as financial service providers. Client advisers are entered in the register of advisers if they prove that i) they have sufficient knowledge of the code of conduct set out in the financial services regulations and the necessary expertise required to perform their activities, ii) their employee has taken out professional indemnity insurance or that equivalent collateral exists, and iii) their employee is affiliated with a recognized Swiss ombudsman in their capacity as a financial service provider (if such affiliation duty exists).

Furthermore, “non-tied” insurance intermediaries (ie, persons who offer or conclude insurance contracts on behalf of insurance companies) are required to register with FINMA’s register of insurance companies. “Tied” insurance intermediaries can register voluntarily. To register, persons must inter alia prove that they have sufficient qualifications and hold professional indemnity insurance or provide an equivalent financial surety.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The FCA maintains a public list of authorised firms and the activities for which each firm has permission. This list is known as the Financial Services Register. The register also includes a directory of certified and assessed persons working in financial services – this includes for each firm (as applicable) senior managers; certified staff; directors (executive and non-executive) who are not performing SMFs; and other individuals who are sole traders or appointed representatives.

Firms are responsible for keeping the directory up to date. Firms must report certain information to the FCA about persons included in the register and directory, including information on an individual's role, their workplace location, and the types of business they are qualified to undertake. The FCA provides guidance and Q&As to assist firms with navigating the register and directory.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

FINRA

Broker-dealers and Investment Advisors regulated by FINRA must file FINRA’s Form U4 when registering associated persons with FINRA or transferring their registration to another broker-dealer. Broker-dealers must also create and implement written procedures to verify the facts disclosed by prospective employees on the U4.

“Associated persons” include employees of all levels involved with the investment and securities operations, including:

  • partners;
  • officers;
  • directors;
  • branch managers;
  • department supervisors;
  • investment bankers;
  • brokers;
  • financial consultants; and
  • salespeople.

The U4 form requires disclosure of the associated person’s background history, including any criminal convictions or civil actions, regulatory proceedings or sanctions, administrative proceedings, financial disclosures (such as bankruptcy), customer complaints, or arbitration awards.

SEC

Investment advisers must register with the SEC under the Advisers Act. They must submit Form ADV using the Investment Adviser Registration Depository (IARD), an internet-based filing system maintained by FINRA.

SEC-regulated entities require every prospective employee to complete a questionnaire disclosing their identifying information, employment history, and record of any disciplinary actions, denial or suspension of membership of registration, criminal record, or any record of civil action against that employee. FINRA form U4, if completed, fulfils the requirements of this Rule.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

07. Are there any specific rules relating to compensation payable to financial services employees in your jurisdiction, including, for example, limits on variable compensation, or provisions for deferral, malus and/or clawback of monies paid to employees?
 

07. Are there any specific rules relating to compensation payable to financial services employees in your jurisdiction, including, for example, limits on variable compensation, or provisions for deferral, malus and/or clawback of monies paid to employees?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Specific rules apply to personnel whose professional activities have a significant impact on the company's risk profile (article 92, 2. Directive 2013/36/EU; article 67, Act of 25 April 2014), including:

  • all members of the legal administrative body and senior management;
  • staff members with supervisory responsibility for control functions or business units;
  • employees who received significant remuneration during the previous year (ie, 500,000 EUR or more and equal to or greater than the average remuneration of members of the legal administrative body and senior management) and the employee performs the professional activity in a critical business unit and the nature of the activity is such that it has a significant impact on the risk profile of the business unit concerned.

Variable remuneration is capped at 50% of the fixed remuneration or 50,000 EUR, without exceeding the fixed remuneration, whichever is higher (article 1, Annex II, Act of 25 April 2014). Moreover, it is forbidden to have a guaranteed variable remuneration (article 5). 40% of variable remuneration is delayed for four to five years, with a minimum of five years for members of the legal administrative body and senior management. When the variable remuneration is very high, the percentage of the delayed variable remuneration is 60% (article 7).

The total variable remuneration will be significantly reduced if the company generates a reduced or negative financial return. This applies to variable remuneration not yet earned, variable remuneration earned but not yet paid, and variable remuneration that has already been paid. It occurs through malus or clawback schemes, in particular when the person has participated in practices that have resulted in significant losses, has not respected the “fit and proper” duties or has set up a specific mechanism for tax fraud (article 8).

A termination indemnity is considered a variable remuneration, except for a legal indemnity in lieu of notice or a non-compete indemnity (based on the calculation provided by the Employment Contracts Act). Furthermore, a termination indemnity higher than 12 months, or 18 months for a motivated decision from the remuneration committee, can only be granted subject to the approval of the first ordinary general meeting following the termination (articles 12 and 12/1).

For companies that benefit from government intervention, there is in principle no variable remuneration, except for the person recruited after the public intervention to carry on the restructuring. Moreover, the termination indemnity is capped at nine months, unless the legal indemnity in lieu of notice (based on seniority) is higher (articles 16 and 17).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Yes, there are specific sets of rules on remuneration in the financial services sector, varying in detail per sub-sector. Rules are particularly strict for material risk-takers of significant institutions in light of the increased risk profile of their activities for the entire organisation.

Variable and fixed remuneration must have an appropriate ratio to each other. For financial institutions, the ratio is appropriate if the variable remuneration both complies with an upper limit of 100% of the fixed remuneration (up to 200% maximum based on a shareholders’ resolution) and provides an effective behavioural incentive. Further, variable remuneration may need to be spread over deferral periods. Depending on the sector, remuneration may have to be made subject to malus, holdback or clawback provisions in case specific risks materialise or the employee is found guilty of misconduct. Further, certain remuneration elements must be granted in instruments instead of cash payments, with restrictions around this element again varying by sub-sector.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

There are no specific mandatory rules relating to compensation payable to financial services employees in Hong Kong.

The HKMA has issued a Supervisory Policy Manual CG-5 “Guideline on a Sound Remuneration System”. This focuses on providing a broad idea and introducing basic principles of how remuneration policies should be designed and implemented in the authorised institution, to encourage employee behaviour that supports the risk management framework, corporate values and long-term financial soundness of the authorised institution.

Under the Guideline, the elements of a sound remuneration system are as follows:

Governance

  • Remuneration policy should be in line with objectives, business strategies and the long-term goals of the authorised institution.
  • The remuneration arrangement for employees whose activities could have a material impact on the authorised institution’s risk profile and financial soundness should support, but not undermine, the overall risk management approach.
  • The Board of an authorised institution is ultimately responsible for overseeing the formulation and implementation of the remuneration policy.
  • The establishment of a Board remuneration committee would assist the Board in discharging its responsibility for the design and operation of the authorised institution’s remuneration system.
  • Risk control personnel should have appropriate authority and involvement in the process of design and implementation of the authorised institution’s remuneration policy.

Structure of remuneration

  • Balance of fixed and variable remuneration should be determined with regard to the seniority, role, responsibilities and activities of their employees and the need to promote behaviour among employees that support the authorised institution’s risk-management framework and long-term financial soundness.
  • Variable remuneration should be paid in such a manner as to align an employee’s incentive awards with long-term value creation and the time horizons of risk.
  • Guaranteed minimum bonus to senior management or key personnel should be subject to the approval of the Board (or the Board’s remuneration committee with the necessary delegated authority).

Measurement of performance for variable remuneration

  • The award of variable remuneration should depend on the fulfilment of certain pre-determined and assessable performance criteria, which include both financial and non-financial factors.
  • Size and allocation of variable remuneration should take into account the current and potential risks associated with the activities of employees, as well as the performance (overall performance of the relevant business units and the authorised institution as a whole as well as the contribution of individual employees to such performance).
  • Judgement and common sense may be required during the process to arrive at a fair and appropriate remuneration decision. The rationale for the exercise of judgment and the outcomes should be recorded in writing.

Alignment of remuneration pay-outs to the time horizon of risks

  • Deferment of variable remuneration is appropriate when the risks taken by the employee in question are harder to measure or will be realised over a longer timeframe.
  • The award of deferred remuneration should be subject to a minimum vesting period and pre-defined vesting conditions in respect of future performance.
  • Authorised institutions should seek undertakings from employees not to engage in personal hedging strategies or remuneration and liability-related insurance to hedge their exposures in respect of the unvested portion of their deferred remuneration.

Remuneration disclosure

  • Authorised institutions should make remuneration disclosures at least annually. The disclosure should include the qualitative and quantitative information that the HKMA has set out in its annual remuneration disclosure.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

There are certain rules relating to compensation payable to financial services employees, such as those in the banking, mutual fund or asset management, and insurance industries.

The central bank of India, the RBI, deals with the compensation policy for all private-sector banks and foreign banks operating in India by requiring them to formulate their own compensation policy and annually reviewing it. Banks are not allowed to employ or continue the employment of any person whose remuneration is excessive in the RBI’s opinion. For instance, the RBI lays down guidelines on the compensation of “Whole Time Directors (“WTD”) / Chief Executive Officers / Material Risk Takers and Control Function Staff”[1], elaborate guidelines encompassing the governance of compensation and its alignment with prudent risk-taking, policies for risk control and compliance staff, the identification of “material risk takers”, and disclosure and engagement by stakeholders. It even envisages deferred payments being subjected to malus or clawback arrangements if there was negative performance. For variable pay, it mandates banks to incorporate malus or clawback mechanisms and suggests they specify periods of malus or clawback application to cover at least deferral and retention periods.[2] It is pertinent to highlight that private sector and foreign banks in India must obtain regulatory approval[3] for the grant of remuneration to WTDs or CEOs.

The RBI also prescribes guidelines around compensation for key managerial personnel (KMP) and senior management in non-banking financial companies (NBFCs)[4]:

  • NBFCs are mandated to form “Nomination and Remuneration Committees” (NRCs) as per Section 178 of the Companies Act, 2013, which will then be entrusted with framing, reviewing and implementing the compensation policy to be approved by the board of the company.
  • The compensation must align with the risk related to the decision-making process. The compensation package can comprise both fixed and variable pay and may also be a mix of cash, equity or other forms, in line with projected risk factors.
  • A bonus has no bearing on the performance of the individual. The bonus is guaranteed based on the fulfilment of certain criteria as may be specified in the compensation policy. A guaranteed bonus should neither be considered part of fixed pay nor variable pay and the same is not payable to KMP and senior management. However, a guaranteed bonus can be paid to new employees as part of a sign-on bonus whereby potential employees can be incentivised to join NBFCs.
  • "Deferred compensation may be subject to malus/clawback arrangements."  The compensation policy concerning malus or clawback must mandatorily apply for the period equal to at least the deferred retention period. 

Despite the aforementioned guidelines being applicable from 1 April 2023, NBFCs must immediately begin aligning their internal procedures to comply with the mandatory guidelines above to assist the transition. Existing remuneration policies being followed by the NBFCs should be reviewed to make the necessary changes to be compliant with the above-mentioned policies.

When it comes to regulations on an “employee stock option plan” (ESOP) for financial services employees, regulators may impose industry-specific guidelines. For instance, as per the SEBI (Share Based Employee Benefits and Sweat Equity) Regulations, 2021[5], the employee stock option scheme should be drafted in a manner that no such employee violates SEBI (Insider Trading) Regulations, 1992 and SEBI (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to the Securities Market) Regulations, 1995. ESOPs issued to managerial staff and for non-cash consideration shall be treated as part of managerial remuneration. In another development, the RBI has directed that ESOPs should be at a fair value, shooting up costs and creating the cascading effect of replacing ESOPs with deferred bonus payments for senior managerial personnel.


[1] Guidelines on Compensation of Whole Time Directors/Chief Executive Officers/Material Risk Takers and Control Function staff, November 4, 2019, available at https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/NOTI898C120D41D0E3465B8552E5467EDD7A56.PDF

[2] Guidelines on Compensation of Whole Time Directors/Chief Executive Officers/Material Risk Takers and Control Function staff, November 4, 2019, available at https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/NOTI898C120D41D0E3465B8552E5467EDD7A56.PDF

[3] Section 35B, Banking Regulation Act 1949.

[4] Guidelines on Compensation for Key Managerial Personnel (KMP) and Senior Management in non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), April 29, 2022, available at <https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/notification/PDFs/KMPNBFCS962EC76438C845A6846A5BD59BC7513D.PDF>

[5] Securities and Exchange Board of India (Share Based Employee Benefits and Sweat Equity) Regulations 2021, August 13, 2021, available at <https://www.sebi.gov.in/legal/regulations/aug-2021/securities-and-exchange-board-of-india-share-based-employee-benefits-and-sweat-equity-regulations-2021_51889.html>

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

Yes, the government requires financial institutions to implement a restrained remuneration policy. This policy should counteract excessive variable pay and remuneration incentives.

There are strict rules regarding the payment of bonuses; strict conditions for severance payments; and variable remuneration being reclaimed under certain conditions (clawback clause). These rules are included in the Remuneration Policy of Financial Enterprises Act, which is part of the Wft.

Payment of bonuses

For employees of Dutch financial institutions, bonuses may not exceed 20% of the fixed annual salary, under article 1:121 Wft.

Severance pay

No severance pay shall be paid to employees of Dutch financial institutions in the following cases, as per article 1:125 paragraph 1 Wft:

  • if someone leaves voluntarily, unless there is serious culpability on the part of the employer;
  • in the event of seriously culpable acts or omissions in the performance of the function;
  • to a daily policymaker if the company fails.

In addition, the severance payment for daily policymakers (directors) may not exceed one year's salary under article 1:125 paragraph 2 Wft.

Clawback clause

The clawback clause relates to reclaiming variable remuneration, such as an awarded bonus. Article 1:127 paragraph 3 Wft contains two situations in which the financial institution is obliged to reclaim the variable remuneration paid out to the employee: if the employee failed to meet appropriate standards of competence and proper conduct; or is responsible for conduct that has materially worsened the firm's position.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Disclosure requirements may apply depending on the employee’s role. For example, with some exemptions, financial advisors are required to disclose to the client the remuneration that they receive or will receive for making any recommendations in respect of a particular investment product, or executing a purchase or sale contract relating to a designated investment product on their clients’ behalf.

MAS’ Guidelines on Corporate Governance (applicable to designated financial holding companies, banks, and some insurers) also requires the FI’s board of directors to have a formal and transparent procedure for developing policies on and fixing the remuneration of directors, executives, and key management personnel. A separate remuneration committee made up of non-executive directors must be established to make the relevant recommendations. MAS expects compliance with these guidelines in a manner commensurate with the size, nature of activities and risk profile of the FI. Diverging from the guidelines is acceptable to the extent that FIs explicitly state and explain how their practices are consistent with the policy intent of the relevant principle.

Companies listed on the Singapore stock exchange have similar requirements under MAS’ Code of Corporate Governance, and these also exist in subsidiary legislation applicable to the FI. As for all other non-exempt companies, director and employee remuneration will ordinarily have to be disclosed through publicly available financial statements, under applicable accounting standards.

Apart from the above, there are no strict limits on compensation or requirements to impose deferral, malus or clawback provisions. Employers may include such provisions in their contracts, but should be aware that the enforcement of such provisions may be subject to challenge.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Swiss civil law provides for special rules that govern the compensation of current and former members of inter alia the board and executive committee (Ordinance against Excessive Compensation) of Swiss companies limited by shares that are listed on a Swiss or foreign stock exchange. In addition, there are disclosure provisions listed companies need to follow concerning remuneration under stock exchange regulations.

In addition to the above, FINMA has formulated ten principles regarding remuneration that banks, securities firms, financial groups and conglomerates, insurance companies, insurance groups and conglomerates are required to implement. The principles serve as minimum standards for the design, implementation and disclosure of remuneration schemes.

These schemes should not incentivise to take inappropriate risks and thereby potentially damage the stability of financial institutions.

One of the focal points of the principles is variable remuneration that depends on business performance and risk. In particular, all variable remuneration must have been earned by the company over the long term. Consequently, remuneration is dependent on performance, taking into account the sustainability of such performance as well as the risks. That said, FINMA’s principles do not limit the amount of variable remuneration. However, FINMA aims to prevent the granting of high remuneration based on large risks and the generation of short-term, unsustainable earnings. Furthermore, persons who have significant responsibility relating to the risk or receive a high total remuneration, must receive a significant part of the variable remuneration on a deferred basis and consequently, in a way that is linked to the current risk. Under the FINMA principles, "clawback" and "malus" arrangements are permitted.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The remuneration of financial services employees working at certain firms (such as banks, building societies, asset managers and investment firms) is heavily regulated. The relevant rules can be found in various FCA “Remuneration Codes” (each Code tailored to different firms) and also (for dual-regulated firms) in specific remuneration parts of the PRA Rulebook and directly applicable retained EU law.

The remuneration rules are complex and their application is dependent on each firm. The key principle of the rules, however, is that firms subject to them must ensure that their remuneration policies and practices are consistent with and promote sound and effective risk management.

Some elements of the rules apply to all staff, whereas others apply only to material risk-takers within a particular firm.

By way of a snapshot, the rules generally cover such matters as:

  • the appropriate ratio between fixed pay and variable pay, to ensure that fixed pay is a sufficiently high proportion of total remuneration to allow for the possibility of paying no variable pay;
  • the amount of any discretionary bonus pool, which should be based on profit, adjusted for current and future risks, and take into account the cost and quantity of the capital and liquidity required;
  • performance-related bonuses, which should be assessed based on a variety of factors, including the performance of the individual, the relevant business unit and the overall results of the firm;
  • restrictions on guaranteed variable pay and payments on termination of employment; and
  • malus and clawback requirements.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Overtime

Financial services employees in the United States are commonly classified as administrative employees exempt from both minimum wage and overtime laws. To qualify for this administrative exception under the Fair Labor Standard Acts (FLSA) and often, applicable state law, an employee must:

  • be compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate at least equal to the minimum required threshold (at the time of writing set at $684 a week or $35,568 annually); and
  • have a primary duty:
    • that is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and
    • includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment on significant matters.

Examples of employees qualifying for the administrative exemption are those whose duties include:

  • collecting and analysing information regarding the customer’s income, assets, investments or debts;
  • determining which financial products best meet a customer’s needs;
  • advising customers regarding the pros and cons of various financial products; and
  • marketing, servicing, or promoting financial products.

An employee whose sole duty is selling financial products does not qualify for the administrative exemption. United States courts are split on whether financial advisors are exempt.

Many states have a higher minimum annual salary threshold for the administrative exemption, including California ($1,240 a week, as of 1 January 2023) and New York ($1,125 a week for New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties and $990 a week for the remainder of the state. The remainder of the State increased to $1,064.25 a week on 31 December 2022).

California has an administrative exemption test, which also requires the employee to customarily and regularly exercise discretion and independent judgement, in addition to being primarily engaged in administrative duties. Employees that do not qualify as non-exempt under one of the exemptions must receive overtime pay under California law.

FLSA also exempts “highly compensated” employees. To qualify for this exemption, an employee must earn at least $107,432 in total annual compensation (not including discretionary bonuses), must perform office or non-manual work as part of their primary duty, and must customarily perform one or more exempt duties of an administrative, executive, or professional employee.

Bonuses

Discretionary bonuses can be for any amount and can be determined on quantitative factors (eg, employer profits) or subjective factors (eg, known performance indicators, performance, merit) and employers may condition an employee’s eligibility to receive a bonus on their active employment at the time when bonuses are paid.

Guaranteed bonuses are typically non-discretionary and set at a fixed number or percentage (eg, a percentage of the employee’s annual base salary or the employer’s profits). A guaranteed bonus (unlike a discretionary one) creates a contractual obligation and will be considered wages. Once a payment is considered a “wage,” employers generally cannot withhold, recover or claw back the bonus from an employee.

California requires non-discretionary bonuses to be included in a non-exempt employee’s regular rate for overtime calculation.

Certain compensation plans include “forgivable loans,” conditioning an employee’s obligation to repay on their continued employment with the new employer for a time. If the employee leaves or is fired for certain reasons before the full loan amount is forgiven, the unforgiven share, with interest, can become due and payable.

California generally prohibits employers from deducting any outstanding loan balances from an employee’s final paycheck without express permission in contemporaneous writing signed by the employee, both at the time the loan or advance was given and at separation.

Similarly, New York has extremely nuanced rules related to permissible deductions for employee benefits, which are limited (eg, authorised deductions and deductions for the benefit of the employee).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

08. Are there particular training requirements for employees in the financial services sector?

08. Are there particular training requirements for employees in the financial services sector?

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

To keep the “fit and proper” authorisation, the concerned persons must ensure that they follow the relevant training.

Regarding the prevention of money laundering, financial institutions must ensure that personnel whose function requires it is aware of the legislation, knows the internal policies, is aware of the internal reporting procedure and receives special continuing education programmes (article 11, §1, Act of 18 September 2017).

At a sectoral level, JC Nos. 310 and 341 foresee five days of training per full-time equivalent employee.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Qualification requirements exist for specific roles (eg, traders), and employers must ensure they comply with them by only contracting employees with the required skills, certifications and experience. The expertise of employees providing investment advice, sales representation, and compliance advice must also be continuously maintained and regularly updated.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

SFC

Persons engaging in regulated activities are required to continuously update their knowledge and skills through continuous professional training (CPT). The “Guidelines on Continuous Professional Training” published by the SFC provides for the following CPT requirements:

  • a minimum of 10 CPT hours a year for licensed representatives and relevant individuals; and
  • a minimum of 12 CPT hours a year for responsible officers and executive officers (including 2 CPT hours on topics relating to regulatory compliance).

In addition, an individual should attend at least five CPT hours a year (out of the 10 hours for licensed representatives and relevant individuals and 12 hours for responsible officers and executive officers) on topics directly relevant to the regulated activities for which he or she is licensed at the time the CPT hours are undertaken.

HKMA

The HKMA has implemented the “Enhanced Competency Framework”(ECF) for banking practitioners. While the ECF is not a mandatory regime, banks are strongly encouraged to adopt it as the benchmark for enhancing the level of core competence and ongoing professional development of banking practitioners.

IA

Under the “Guideline on Continuing Professional Development for Licensed Insurance Intermediaries”, licensed insurance intermediaries who are individuals are required to receive training through CPD to preserve their professional competence and standards in providing service to policyholders and potential policyholders.

The minimum number of CPD hours for individual licensees is 15 CPD hours for each assessment period, including a minimum of three compulsory CPD hours on “Ethics or Regulations” courses.

Financial services employees are also required to receive training on anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism. New staff should be required to attend initial training as soon as possible after being hired or appointed. Apart from the initial training, refresher training should be provided regularly to ensure that staff are reminded of their responsibilities and are kept informed of new developments.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

Financial services employees usually undergo training once they are selected and onboarded.

Financial services sectors categorise employees as specialists and generalists. On one hand, those in charge of specialist roles are deployed in treasury, derivatives trading, IT, forex, risk management, service delivery groups, product roles, legal, etc., while on the other, the generalists are deployed in branches, administrative functions, finance, some areas of treasury, taxation, general management, operations, relationship or sales managing, etc. They should possess differentiated requisite academic qualifications with skill certifications (if any) or obtain competitive scores in recruitment tests.

As such, there are no legal requirements for prior training of employees in the financial services sector. There are various certificate courses, workshops and diplomas by financial institutions and agencies, which are recommended to be attended regularly to stay abreast of industry knowledge and to secure an edge in intra-organisational promotions.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

Please see question 3.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Examinations (see question 4) and continuing education requirements apply to certain employees in the capital markets services, financial advice and insurance sectors.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

In general, regulated companies (eg, banks, insurance companies or asset managers) are required to set up and maintain an organisation that ensures compliance with applicable financial market laws. Given the organisational measures and depending on the regulatory status of the employing entity and the position and activities of the financial services employee, there are training requirements.

While Swiss financial market regulations do not have an exhaustive list of exact training requirements, FINMA requires, among others, that the highest bodies of supervised companies (eg, executives of board members of banks, securities firms, insurance and reinsurance companies, fund management companies, managers of collective assets or asset managers) can fulfil the requirements of the so-called fit and proper test. These requirements extend to all character-related and professional elements that enable an officeholder to manage a supervised company in compliance with applicable laws. Part of the professional elements are relevant work experience and education. In addition, persons holding key positions (eg, compliance and risk officers and their deputies) are required to demonstrate sufficient know-how because of their work experience and education.

That said, the Swiss financial services and insurance supervisory regulations provide for more concrete training requirements. In particular, client advisers of Swiss and foreign financial service providers (eg, investment advisers) may need to demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge of the code of conduct rules of the Swiss financial services regulation and the necessary expertise required to perform their activities. In addition, insurance intermediaries registered with FINMA’s insurance intermediary register have to prove that they have undergone sufficient education and have sufficient qualifications. On its website, FINMA has published a list of different educational Swiss and foreign qualifications that it deems to be sufficient.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The PRA and FCA training and competence regimes set the minimum standards that must be achieved by individuals working in the financial services industry. These regimes aim to ensure that authorised firms have arrangements in place to satisfy themselves that their employees are competent.

All FSMA-authorised firms are required to have adequately trained and competent senior management and employees. The training and competence requirements include:

  • Threshold conditions on suitability – All firms must show that persons connected with the firm are fit and proper, taking into account all the circumstances. When assessing the suitability threshold of an employee, the FCA and the PRA will consider:
    • the nature of the regulated activity the firm carries on or is seeking to carry on;
    • the need to ensure that the firm's affairs are conducted soundly and prudently;
    • the need to ensure that the firm's affairs are conducted appropriately, considering especially the interests of consumers and the integrity of the UK financial system; and
    • whether those who manage the firm's affairs have adequate skills and experience and act with probity.
  • FCA Principles for Businesses or PRA Fundamental Rules – These rules lay out the parameters of the “fit and proper” standard set for firms in the threshold condition on suitability, and require firms to undertake the following:
    • recruit staff in sufficient numbers;
    • provide employees with appropriate training, with competence assessed continuously;
    • make proper arrangements for employees involved with carrying on regulated activities to achieve, maintain and enhance competence; and
    • train employees to pay due regard to the interests of a firm’s customers and treat them fairly.
  • Competent employees rule in chapters 3 and 5 of the Senior Management Arrangement Systems and Controls Sourcebook – This is the main employee competence requirement in the training and competence regime under the FSMA and applies to individuals engaged in a regulated activity in UK-regulated firms. The application of this rule can be complex and dependent upon the firm and the activities it undertakes, but in general, it provides that firms must employ personnel with the skills, knowledge and expertise necessary for the discharge of the responsibilities allocated to them.
  • Detailed training and competence requirements in the FCA’s training and competence handbook (TC) – The TC rules are designed to supplement the competent employees rule, especially concerning retail activities carried on by firms. Among others, these rules include the following:
    • rules on assessing and maintaining competence;
    • supervision of employees who have not yet been assessed as competent;
    • appropriate qualifications; and
    • recordkeeping and reporting for firms within its scope, including how a firm assessed its employees as competent, and how it has ensured that its employees remain competent.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

All employees in some states, including California and New York, are required to receive periodic sexual harassment training. Additionally, employees may be required to pass certain skills tests before registering with regulators or engage in continuing education programmes (most notably FINRA, see question 4).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

09. Is there a particular code of conduct and/or are there other regulations regarding standards of behaviour that financial services employees are expected to adhere to?
 

09. Is there a particular code of conduct and/or are there other regulations regarding standards of behaviour that financial services employees are expected to adhere to?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

The NBB has issued a Fit & Proper Handbook, which was last updated on 22 December 2022.

Besides, Febelfin has adopted codes of conduct and regulations for relations between financial institutions and their customers, which can be considered standard practice in the sector.

Each financial institution may also provide more concrete or more precise quality standards for its clientele.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Employees must conduct themselves in line with their respective roles and responsibilities, which in client-facing roles indirectly leads to them being subject to specific behavioural obligations (such as having to adhere to certain procedures and documentation obligations before selling a service or product to a client). In addition, company policies required by the regulator (eg, on sustainability or equal treatment) often include behavioural standards.

In addition, there are voluntary standards adopted by various professional associations, such as the Code of Conduct of the Federal Association of Financial Services, which apply to their respective members.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

SFC

Under the SFO, licensed representatives and ROs are required to be “a fit and proper person” to carry on the regulated activities and must adhere to the standards of behaviour set out in the “Code of Conduct for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission”. Other relevant guidelines regarding standards of behaviour include:

  • “Fit and Proper Guidelines”, which set out the general expectations of the SFC of what is necessary to satisfy the licensing or registration requirements that a person is fit and proper.
  • “Guidelines on Competence”, which set out the competence requirements and its objective to ensure a person is equipped with the necessary technical skills and professional expertise to be “fit”, and is aware of the relevant ethical standards and regulatory knowledge to be “proper” in carrying on any regulated activities.

HKMA

Under the BO, employees of an authorised institution that carry on regulated activities under the SFO are required to be fit and proper. In addition, the HKMA needs to be satisfied that the chief executive, directors, controllers and executive officers of the authorised institutions are fit and proper. Other relevant guidelines regarding standards of behaviour include:

  • “Code of Banking Practice”, which is to be observed by authorised institutions in dealing with and providing services to their customers.
  • Supervisory Policy Manual CG – 2 “Systems of Control for Appointment of Managers”, which sets out the system of control that authorised institutions should have for ensuring the fitness and propriety of individuals appointed as managers.

IA

The conduct requirements for licensed insurance agents and brokers are set out in Division 4 of the IO. Other relevant codes and guidelines include:

  • “Code of Conduct for Licensed Insurance Agents”, which sets out the fundamental principles of professional conduct that buyers of insurance are entitled to expect in their dealings with licensed insurance agents.
  • “Code of Conduct for Licensed Insurance Brokers”, which sets out the fundamental principles of professional conduct that buyers of insurance are entitled to expect in their dealings with licensed insurance brokers.
  • “Guideline on ‘Fit and Proper’ Criteria under the Insurance Ordinance”
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

Financial services regulators like the RBI, SEBI and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) regulate employees through prescribed frameworks and their organisation-specific rules.

The obligations for the conduct of employees in financial services are determined depending upon the type of organisation: public sector banks (majorly owned by the state) or private banks; sectors (banking, non-banking, insurance, capital market); regions (different local laws); and level of seniority (liability of officers or manager is different from regular employees or clerical staff).  Though there are no statutory standards, judicial pronouncements have set a higher threshold of duty of care for employees in the financial services sectors. The Andhra Pradesh High Court in Harinarayan Seet v Andhra Bank[1] held dismissal of service as a proportionate punishment for dereliction of duty by banking employees, which would have otherwise attracted a lesser penalty for employees in less-critical sectors.

In terms of general labour legislation also applicable to financial services employees, financial services organisations fall under the definition of “commercial establishments”, whose definition has been laid down by the Shops & Commercial Establishments Act (state level). They provide certain conduct-specific obligations, for example, a prohibition against discrimination, suspension or dismissal for misconduct.

The other major piece of labour legislation that lays down standards of conduct is the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 (IESOA). However, its applicability to commercial establishments or to a specific industry is dependent upon state-wide notifications. For example, the states of Haryana and Karnataka have notified the application of the IESOA to commercial establishments with a minimum of 50 employees. This implies that financial services institutions in these states, meeting the above criteria, are bound to comply with the IESOA. Upon the application of the IESOA, the establishments are required to submit to the certifying officer draft standing orders proposed for their establishment, which should cover acceptable standards for employees.

In the banking sector, employees of public-sector banks, private-sector banks and foreign banks are bound by the obligations laid down by the RBI and their organisation rules. The provisions of these rules, which are different from other industries, are stricter: observance of secrecy; prohibition against using influence to secure employment for family members; bypassing regular compliance checks for availing of banking facilities; prohibition against media contributions, participating in politics or standing for election; demonstrations prejudicial to the public interest; and acceptance of gifts in an official capacity.

In terms of financial propriety, employees must not indulge in speculation in stocks and shares, but must avoid personal insolvency and even disclose their moveable and immoveable assets. During employment, they are also forbidden from engaging in any outside employment (stipendiary or honorary) without the prior approval of the organisation. Higher managerial employees are subject to additional scrutiny. Those belonging to public sector enterprises are brought within the jurisdiction of the Central Vigilance Commission, the apex vigilance institution. It is due to the gravity of corruption cases that the senior management of private sector banks is also included within the ambit of “public servant”, which usually includes employees of only public sector organisations. This was upheld by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Central Bureau of Investigation v Ramesh Gelli[2].  The organisations in the insurance and capital markets sectors also have similar institution-wide conduct and disciplinary rules.

Directors of organisations in the financial services sector may also be subject to duties stated in Schedule IV of the Companies Act 2013 and the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015.

When it comes to outsourcing activities, financial institutions formulate a board-approved “Code of Conduct” as part of the “Outsourcing Agreement”, which is to be complied with by the outsourced service providers and their employees.[3]

Though financial services employees are held to a higher set of moral standards, their right to participate in trade union actions for voicing their concerns has been upheld time and again. Recently, the Madras High Court in the case of D Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev v The Disciplinary Authority and Circle Development Officer and State Bank of India[4] observed bank officers’ right to unionise.  However, the right of bank employees to go on a strike gets limited since banks and other financial institutions are declared as ‘Public Utility Services’ (“PUS”). Accordingly, while they are not barred from going on strike, they must adhere to certain pre-requisites namely service of notice of at least 6 weeks before going on a strike, prohibition of any strike within 14 days from date of service of above notice, prohibition of going on a strike before the expiry of the date of that strike and non-authorization of any strike during the pendency of any conciliation proceedings or 7 days after the conclusion of such a proceeding. Upon being declared a PUS, the concerned industry must adhere to these conditions failing which the strikes would be declared as illegal.

[1] WP No. 23310 of 2011.

[2] (2016) 3 SCC 788.

[3]Directions on Managing Risks and Code of Conduct in Outsourcing of Financial Services by NBFCs, November 9, 2017, available at <https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Notification/PDFs/NT87_091117658624E4F2D041A699F73068D55BF6C5.PDF>

[4] W.A. No. 432 of 2013 and W.P. No. 16746 of 2013

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

A certain level of integrity is expected of employees in the financial industry. The banking oath contains certain integrity standards and values that are central to the financial sector and which the employer may require employees to observe. There are also Codes of Conduct for each industry that elaborate on the applicable standards and values. For example, standards and values for the banking industry are further elaborated upon in the Banking Industry Code of Conduct.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

MAS’ Guidelines on Individual Accountability and Conduct emphasises the importance of reinforcing standards of proper conduct among all employees, while employees conducting regulated activities must remain fit and proper for their roles under MAS’ Guidelines on Fit and Proper Criteria. Guidelines, codes, and legislation relating to corporate governance and risk management (eg, those mentioned in questions 5 and 6) should also be considered.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Depending on the regulatory status of the employing entity and, as the case may be, on the exact activities of a financial service employee, a financial service employee needs to adhere to certain code of conduct rules (eg, regarding transparency and care, documentation and accountability).

Supervised companies in Switzerland are, in principle, required to set up an organisation that ensures the compliance with Swiss financial market laws and its statutory code of conduct rules. For this purpose, among others, companies are required to issue regulations that their employees must follow.

Under Swiss financial market laws, code of conduct rules are generally based on abstract statutory rules and concretized by recognised privately organised associations.

In particular, several professional organisations (eg, the Swiss Bankers Association or the Asset Management Association) and self-regulated organisations issue their own set of code of conduct rules that members are required to follow.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Yes. Both the FCA and PRA have established their own high-level required standards of conduct known as the Conduct Rules. The FCA’s conduct rules are set out in the FCA’s Code of Conduct sourcebook. The PRA’s conduct rules are set out in the PRA Rulebook (and different versions apply to different types of PRA-regulated firms).

The FCA’s conduct rules apply to most individuals working at an SM&CR firm. The PRA’s conduct rules apply to more limited individuals working at dual-regulated SM&CR firms: senior managers (approved by the PRA or FCA); individuals within the PRA’s certification regime; key function holders; and non-executive directors.

The Conduct Rules apply to conduct relating to the carrying out of an individual’s role. They do not extend to conduct within an individual’s private life, provided that the conduct is unrelated to the activities they carry out for their firm. Nevertheless, an individual’s behaviour outside of work can still be relevant to the separate consideration of their fitness and propriety.

There are two tiers of Conduct Rules: a first tier of rules applicable to all individuals subject to the Conduct Rules; and a second tier applicable to senior managers only.

The rules of the first tier are:

  • Rule 1 – You must act with integrity.
  • Rule 2 – You must act with due skill, care and diligence.
  • Rule 3 – You must be open and cooperative with the FCA, PRA and other regulators.
  • Rule 4 – You must pay due regard to the interests of the customer and treat them fairly.
  • Rule 5 – You must observe proper standards of market conduct.

The rules of the second tier (applicable to senior managers) are:

  • SC1 – You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the business of the firm for which you are responsible is controlled effectively.
  • SC2 – You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the business of the firm for which you are responsible complies with the relevant requirements and standards of the regulatory system.
  • SC3 – You must take reasonable steps to ensure that any delegation of your responsibilities is to an appropriate person and that you oversee the discharge of the delegated responsibility effectively.
  • SC4 – You must disclose appropriately any information for which the FCA or PRA would reasonably expect notice.
  • SC5 (certain dual-regulated firms only) – When exercising your responsibilities, you must pay due regard to the interests of current and potential future policyholders in ensuring the provision by the firm of an appropriate degree of protection for their insured benefits.

Firms must notify the FCA if they take disciplinary action against an individual for a breach of the Conduct Rules.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Employees in some states, including California and New York, are required to receive periodic sexual harassment training.

Employers are also required to implement anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that:

  • contain information about where and how employees can report improper conduct;
  • prohibit retaliation for reporting or opposing improper conduct, or participating in an investigation regarding misconduct; and
  • comply with state and local provisions that require employer policies to contain certain provisions (eg, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco).

New York law prohibits employers from mandating confidentiality or non-disclosure provisions when settling sexual harassment claims (though it allows such provisions where it is the employee’s preference to include them).

California law prohibits employers from mandating confidentiality or non-disclosure provisions in employment agreements, settlement agreements, and separation agreements that are designed to restrict an employee's ability to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including information pertaining to harassment or discrimination or any other conduct the employee has reason to believe is unlawful.

FINRA and the SEC both have requirements and recommendations for social media use.

FINRA requires that broker-dealers retain records of social media communications related to the broker-dealer’s business made using social media sites and adopt policies and procedures designed to ensure that their employees who use social media sites for business purposes are appropriately supervised and trained, and do not present an undue risk to investors.

The SEC similarly requires that social media use complies with all federal security laws, including antifraud, compliance, and recordkeeping provisions.

Banking regulators provide guidance stating that each financial institution is expected to carry out an appropriate risk assessment that takes social media activities into consideration.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

10. Are there any circumstances in which notifications relating to the employee or their conduct will need to be made to local or international regulators?
 

10. Are there any circumstances in which notifications relating to the employee or their conduct will need to be made to local or international regulators?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

If a new element occurs that can influence one or more of the five criteria assessing the suitability of a person for the “fit and proper” authorisation (see question 2), the financial institution must file the adequate form with the NBB.

Notification to the NBB is also required in the event of termination or reappointment.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Yes. Under section 87 WpHG, investment firms must notify BaFin of any changes regarding employees providing investment advice, sales representation, and compliance advice. This includes, for example, personal data or a change of the responsible sales representative, but also the termination of the activity. Changes must be communicated to BaFin within one month.

Further, investment firms must notify BaFin as soon as a substantial customer complaint is made against one or more employees based on his or her activities in connection with investment advice. This applies, for example, to allegations of incorrect investment advice. The notification to BaFin must be submitted within six weeks of receipt of the complaint. Details on the content of the notification are governed by section 8 paragraph 4 of the Securities Trading Act Employee Notification Ordinance.

There are further notification obligations if there are doubts about an employee‘s reliability under the relevant statutory rules. For example, in their initial declaration of reliability under section 24 paragraph 1 No. 1 KWG and section 5b Ordinance on Notifications and Submission of Documents under the KWG, future managing directors and persons acting as sole representatives of credit institutions and financial services institutions must immediately report to BaFin in writing any subsequent changes that may be relevant to their reliability. This applies to all facts that were also relevant for the initial reliability assessment (eg, because an employee was convicted of certain financial crimes). In addition, BaFin must also receive notifications of preliminary proceedings, indictments and convictions of certain financial sector employees according to the Order on Notifications in Criminal Matters.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

SFC – Self-reporting obligation

An SFC-licensed intermediary is subject to the self-reporting obligation under paragraph 12.5 of the “Code of Conduct for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission”. A licensed or registered person should report to the SFC immediately upon the occurrence of any material breach, infringement or non-compliance with any laws, rules regulations, and codes administered or issued by the SFC, exchange or clearing house of which it is a member or participant of, and the requirement of any regulatory authority applicable to that intermediary. This encompasses both actual and suspected breaches, infringements or non-compliance. In the report, the particulars of the actual or suspected breach, infringement or non-compliance, and relevant information and documents must be included to fulfil the obligation.

The same is to be reported by the registered institutions to the HKMA. The HKMA also requires authorised institutions to submit an incident report on the same day of discovering the incident.

SFC - Internal investigation disclosure obligation

In addition, a licensed corporation is required to provide the SFC with information about whether a licensed individual who ceases to be accredited to it (outgoing employee) was under any investigation commenced by the licensed corporation within six months preceding his or her cessation of accreditation. If the internal investigation commences after the notification of cessation of accreditation, the licensed corporation should also notify the SFC as soon as practicable. In addition, even if a firm has completed its investigation and made no negative findings against an outgoing employee, the firm will still be required to notify the SFC of the investigation.

The SFC expects licensed corporations to proactively disclose information about all investigative actions and the following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of investigations involving an outgoing employee that a licensed corporation should disclose to the SFC:

  • investigations about a suspected breach or breach of applicable laws, rules and regulations;
  • investigations about a suspected breach or breach of the licensed corporation's internal policies or procedures;
  • investigations about misconduct that are likely to give rise to concerns about the fitness and properness of the outgoing employee;
  • investigations about any matter that may have an adverse market or client impact; and
  • investigations about any matter potentially involving fraud, dishonesty and misfeasance.

HKMA – Reporting incidents to HKMA

According to the “Incident Response and Management Procedures” published by the HKMA, once an authorised institution has become aware that a significant incident has occurred, the authorised institution concerned should notify the HKMA immediately and provide it with whatever information is available at the time. An authorised institution should not wait until it has rectified the problem before reporting the incident to the HKMA.

According to the Supervisory Policy Manual SB-1 “Supervision of Regulated Activities of SFC-Registered Authorized Institutions”, to be in line with the reporting requirements imposed by the SFC on licensed representatives, authorised institutions will be required to notify the HKMA in writing within seven business days upon knowledge of the occurrence of certain information (including any subsequent changes) of the relevant individuals. The required information is on whether or not the person is or has been:

  • convicted of or charged with any criminal offence (other than a minor offence) in Hong Kong or elsewhere;
  • subject to any disciplinary action, or investigation by a regulatory body or criminal investigatory body (as the case may be) in Hong Kong or elsewhere;
  • subject to, or involved in the management of a corporation or business that has been or is subject to, any investigation by a criminal investigatory body or any regulatory body in Hong Kong or elsewhere concerning offences involving fraud or dishonesty;
  • engaged in any judicial or other proceedings, whether in Hong Kong or elsewhere, that is material or relevant to the fitness and propriety of the individual; or
  • bankrupt or aware of the existence of any matters that might render him insolvent or lead to the appointment of a receiver of his property under the Bankruptcy Ordinance.

HKMA – Guidance Note on Cooperation with HKMA Investigations

Under the “Guidance Note on Cooperation with the HKMA in Investigations and Enforcement Proceedings”, the HKMA encourages and recognises the cooperation of authorised institutions, banks and their staff in investigations and enforcement proceedings. Under this Guidance Note, cooperation includes early and voluntary reporting of any suspected breach or misconduct, taking a proactive approach to assist the HKMA’s investigation, and making timely arrangements to provide evidence and information.

IA – Self-reporting obligation

Under “the Code of Conduct for Licensed Insurance Agents/Brokers”, there is a self-reporting obligation by licensed insurance agencies or brokerages to the IA. A licensed insurance agency or brokerage is required to have proper controls and procedures to ensure the following incidents are reported to the IA as soon as is reasonably practicable:

  • a disciplinary action taken by the HKMA, the SFC or the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority;
  • a criminal conviction (other than a minor offence) by any court in Hong Kong or elsewhere;
  • any material breaches of requirements under the IO or any rules, regulations, codes or guidelines administered or issued by the IA; and
  • any material incidents which happen to the agency or brokerage.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

The RBI requires banks to conduct an annual review of fraud committed and provide a note of the total number to the board of directors or the local advisory board. These reports are not to be sent to the RBI but are to be preserved for verification by the RBI’s inspecting officers[1]. Necessary disclosures may also need to be made to SEBI under some of its regulations.

Publicly listed financial services companies may be required to make necessary disclosures, including to the stock exchanges and their auditors, in case of workplace fraud.

[1]Master Directions on Frauds – Classification and Reporting by commercial banks and select FIs (Updated as on July 03, 2017), available at <https://rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_ViewMasDirections.aspx?id=10477>

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

DNB has a reporting point for abuses in the financial industry. The AFM also has a reporting point for complaints about the financial market.

There are also several disciplinary authorities (for different financial institutions) where reports can be made about employees who fail to comply with the Rules of Conduct. For example, there is a Disciplinary Law for Banks, a Disciplinary Council for Financial Services and DSI Disciplinary Law.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Forms need to be submitted to the MAS when an individual ceases to act as a representative in regulated activities or financial advisory services. Depending on the FI, the MAS may also have to be informed of appointments or changes of representatives, directors, chief executive officers, and other key officeholders (see questions 2 and 4).

MAS notices are also required for the reporting of misconduct for employees who are representatives of certain capital market service providers, financial advisers, and insurance broking staff. Examples of reportable misconduct include acts involving fraud, dishonesty or other offences of a similar nature, and non-compliance with regulatory requirements. Specific declaration forms and timelines may apply depending on the FI. An FI may also be required to submit updates on cases where investigations have not concluded or disciplinary action was not taken, or submit a declaration that there was no misconduct reported in a given calendar year.  

While not specific to financial services employees, the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992 requires any person with knowledge, or reasonable grounds to suspect, that any property is being used in connection with criminal activity to file a Suspicious Transaction Report with the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office. MAS notices concerning the prevention of anti-money laundering and incidents of fraud emphasise this obligation.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

As a general principle, supervised companies are required to ensure that persons holding, in particular, executive, overall management, oversight or control functions fulfil the requirements of the “fit and proper” test. Consequently, such persons must be of good repute and can guarantee compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

If a person cannot guarantee that the regulatory requirements are fulfilled at all times (eg, because of a material breach of its duties) the employing entity and its audit companies may be required to immediately report to FINMA, respectively, any incident that is of significance

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Yes. There are multiple potential reporting obligations with various timing imperatives. We include below a snapshot of some of the key obligations:

  • under FCA Principle 11, firms have a general duty to inform the FCA of matters about which it would reasonably expect notice;
  • a firm must notify the FCA immediately it becomes aware, or has information which reasonably suggests, that a matter which could have a significant adverse impact on the firm’s reputation has occurred, may have occurred or may occur in the foreseeable future;
  • a firm must notify the FCA immediately it becomes aware, or has information which reasonably suggests, that a significant breach of a rule (including a significant breach of a Conduct Rule) has occurred, may have occurred or may occur in the foreseeable future; and
  • a firm must also notify the FCA if it takes disciplinary action against an individual for a breach of the Conduct Rules. Where the relevant individual is a senior manager, the notification must be made within seven business days. Where the relevant individual is certified staff, the notification must be made in the firm’s annual reporting.
Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

FINRA members must report to FINRA within 30 calendar days after the firm has concluded, or reasonably should have concluded, that an associated person of the firm or the firm itself has violated any securities, insurance, commodities, financial or investment-related laws, rules, regulations or standards of conduct of any domestic or foreign regulatory body or self-regulatory organisation.

While there is no requirement to report misconduct to regulators, the SEC routinely gives credit to organisations that voluntarily choose to self-report, which can lead to reduced fines, non-prosecution agreements, deferred prosecution agreements, waivers of disqualification following regulatory or criminal actions, or more organisation-friendly language in settlement documents. However, such disclosed information may later be discoverable by private plaintiffs.

The SEC has issued guidance that a failure to self-report significant misconduct can lead to more severe penalties.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

12. Are there any particular rules or protocols that apply when terminating the employment of an employee in the financial services sector, including where a settlement agreement is entered into?
 

12. Are there any particular rules or protocols that apply when terminating the employment of an employee in the financial services sector, including where a settlement agreement is entered into?
 

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

If the person concerned is subject to “fit & proper” authorisation from the NBB (see question 2), a form must be filed with the NBB to inform it of the termination.

Furthermore, the settlement agreement cannot include payments that would not respect the caps for remuneration and termination indemnities (see question 8).

Finally, job security clauses have been negotiated at a sectoral level, meaning a specific procedure must be followed for individual or collective dismissal under JC No. 310, with a sanction of six to nine months’ remuneration.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Employment relationships with risk-takers of significant institutions whose annual fixed remuneration exceeds three times the contribution assessment ceiling for general pension insurance can be terminated more easily, in return for a severance payment, even if a unilateral dismissal is not socially justified. For this purpose, the institution needs to file a motion to the labour court to terminate the employment relationship during an ongoing dismissal protection dispute. The court will then terminate the employment relationship and award a severance payment of up to 12 months‘ salary.

Where employers wish to amicably terminate an employment relationship, they will usually offer a termination agreement that provides for a severance payment as consideration for the job loss. Severance payments offered by institutions under the German Banking Act are, in principle, treated as variable remuneration from a regulatory perspective. Unless certain exceptions and privileges apply, this means that severance payments are subject to the regulatory remuneration rules that apply to variable remuneration, meaning that, for example, the bonus cap and ex-post risk adjustment mechanisms of IVV apply (section 5 paragraph 6 sentence 1 IVV). Exceptions are permissible, inter alia, if severance payments are granted in line with the company’s general policy on severance payments, payments to which there is a legal entitlement, and severance payments to be made based on a final judgment or court settlement.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

There are no particular rules or protocols that apply when terminating the employment of an employee in the financial services sector. The termination procedures will follow the requirements under the Employment Ordinance and the contractual terms of the employment contract. In certain cases (eg, termination of senior executives), the parties may enter into a mutual release and settlement agreement.

The licensed corporations should notify the regulators of any changes, including cessation of appointment of the licensed representative and responsible officer or managers-in-charge of core functions, within seven business days. In the case of registered institutions, the notification should be made to both the SFC and the HKMA.

Under section 64R of the IO, within 14 days after the day on which an authorised insurer, a licensed insurance agency or a licensed insurance broker company (collectively, “Appointing Principal”) terminates the appointment of a licensed insurance agency, a licensed individual insurance agent, a licensed technical representative (agent), a licensed technical representative (broker) or a responsible officer (as the case may be), then the Appointing Principal should notify the IA in writing of the termination.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

The general legal standards on termination of employment are also applicable to employees in the financial services sector. India is not an “at-will” jurisdiction. In general, termination of employment may only be carried out for reasonable cause or on account of misconduct. In cases of termination on any ground other than misconduct, the employee must be provided with prior notice of termination or pay in lieu thereof. The body of laws that govern employee rights around termination are the IDA, state-specific shops and establishments acts, standing orders, and the employment contract. Workmen (basically non-managers) have additional protection in terms of the right to retrenchment compensation when terminated.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

No.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Depending on the employee concerned, the MAS may have to be notified of an employee ceasing to hold an office or to act as a representative (see questions 2, 4 and 11). Termination-related benefits and remuneration may also require disclosure (see question 7).

Apart from this, there are no industry-specific rules or protocols applicable to terminations. Singapore’s Employment Act and the Tripartite Guidelines on Wrongful Dismissal, of general application to all employers, also prescribe rules concerning notice periods, the timing of final payments, and circumstances in which a termination may be wrongful, among other things.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

There are no specific rules or protocols that apply when terminating the employment of an employee in the financial services sector. However, because changes in the strategic and executive management of, in particular, regulated companies such as banks, insurance companies, securities firms, fund management companies, managers of collective assets or asset managers are subject to a prior authorization by FINMA, the timing of termination and re-hiring of particular persons should be considered.

The general rules on the termination of an employment relationship apply under Swiss law: any employment contract concluded for an indefinite period may be unilaterally terminated by both employer and employee, subject to the contractual or (if no contractual notice period was agreed) statutory notice periods for any reason (ordinary termination).

The termination notice needs to be physically received before the notice period can start, meaning the notice needs to be received by the employee before the end of a month so that the notice period can start on the first day of the next month. If notice is not received before the end of the month, the notice period would start the month following the receipt of the notice. A termination notice might be either delivered by mail or personally.

Swiss law does not provide for payment in lieu of a notice period. The only option in this regard is to either send the employee on garden leave or to agree within the termination agreement to terminate the employment relationship per an earlier termination date than the one provided for in the termination notice.

As a general rule, an employment contract may be terminated by either party for any reason. However, Swiss statutory law provides for protection from termination by notice for both employers and employees, distinguishing between abusive and untimely notices of termination.

Based on social policy concerns, the employer must observe certain waiting periods, during which a notice cannot validly be served (so-called untimely notice). Such waiting periods apply (art. 336c CO), for example, during compulsory military or civil defence service, full- or part-time absence from work due to illness or an accident, or during an employee’s pregnancy and 16 weeks following the birth of the child. Any notice given by the employer during these waiting periods is void. Any notice given before the respective period is effective, but once the special situation has occurred and for the period it lasts, the running of the applicable notice period is suspended and only continues after the end of the period in question.

In addition, Swiss civil law defines certain grounds based on which terminations are considered abusive (article 336 CO). Termination by the employer might be considered abusive (eg, if it is based on a personal characteristic of the other party (eg, gender, race, age), or if the other party exercises a right guaranteed by the Swiss Federal Constitution (eg, religion or membership in a political party) unless the exercise of this right violates an obligation of the contract of employment or is seriously prejudicial to the work climate). If the employer abusively terminates the employment contract, the employer has to pay damages to the employee and a penalty of up to six months' remuneration (article 336a CO). Nevertheless, an abusive termination remains valid.

Regarding settlement agreements, Swiss employment law allows the conclusion of such agreements, but there are strict limits on the parties’ freedom of contract. Termination agreements may not be concluded that circumvent statutory provisions on employee protection. According to Swiss case law, termination agreements are usually valid and enforceable if both parties make real concessions, and if the agreement is also favourable for the employee. To conclude a termination agreement initiated by the employer, the employee must also be granted a sufficient reflection period. No further formalities need to be observed when concluding termination agreements, although it is generally advisable to have them in writing.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Settlement agreements

The whistleblowing measures outlined above are complemented by mandatory requirements for SM&CR firms concerning settlement agreements, namely that any such agreement must include a term stating that it doesn’t prevent the individual from making a protected disclosure, and must not require the individual to warrant that they have not made a protected disclosure or that they do not know of any information which could lead to them doing so (a “protected disclosure” is a type of disclosure recognised in English employment law that gives the person making it legal protection from retaliatory detrimental treatment).

SM&CR firms entering into settlement agreements must also ensure that they are not drafted in a way that is incompatible with other relevant regulatory requirements. For example, there is a specific prohibition in the FCA Handbook on firms entering into any arrangements or agreements with any person that limit their ability to disclose information required by the regulatory reference rules (see question 2). As such, terms relating to confidentiality and the provision of employment references should allow the firm sufficient flexibility to comply with regulatory reference requirements, which could include a requirement to update such a reference. In addition, any obligations of confidentiality should include a carve-out to permit relevant regulatory disclosures and reports.

Handover procedures

The SM&CR includes requirements designed to ensure that adequate handovers take place between outgoing and incoming senior managers. Firms must take all reasonable steps to ensure that senior managers (and anyone who has management or supervisory responsibilities for them) have all the information and material that they could reasonably expect to have to perform their responsibilities effectively and under the requirements of the regulatory system. This applies when someone becomes a senior manager and when an existing senior manager takes on a new job or new responsibilities (or when their responsibilities or job are being changed).

Firms must have a handover policy in place to ensure compliance with these requirements. They must also make and maintain adequate records of steps taken to comply with them.

The information and material handed over should be practical and helpful, with an assessment of what issues should be prioritised, and judgement and opinion as well as facts, figures and records. It should also include details about unresolved or possible regulatory breaches and any unresolved concerns expressed by the FCA, the PRA or any other regulatory body.

The format and arrangements of a handover should allow for an orderly transition, which should include the outgoing senior manager contributing to the handover everything that it would be reasonable to expect them to know and consider relevant, including their opinions. This could be achieved by requiring outgoing senior managers to prepare a handover certificate, but the FCA recognises that this will not always be practical.

To ensure that these requirements are satisfied, it is good practice to include in senior managers’ employment contracts (and settlement agreements) specific obligations relating to handovers.

Reallocating senior managers’ responsibilities

In addition to ensuring that adequate handovers take place between outgoing and incoming senior managers, firms should also ensure on the departure of a senior manager that their responsibilities are reallocated and that this is recorded in a way that is compliant with relevant regulatory requirements. This may include temporary reallocation to one or more existing senior managers where the replacement does not take over immediately on the departure of the departing senior manager, as well as updating the firm’s management responsibilities map and statements of responsibilities.

Reporting requirements

When an individual ceases to perform an SMF, the firm must generally notify the relevant regulatory within seven business days.

SM&CR firms must notify the relevant regulators if certain types of disciplinary action are taken, which can include dismissal – see question 10.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Form U5, the Uniform Termination Notice for Securities Industry Registration, is used by broker-dealers to terminate the registration of an associated person with FINRA and in other applicable jurisdictions and self-regulatory organisations. A FINRA member firm must file Form U5 within 30 days of an employee’s termination. This form includes the reason for an employee’s departure and must include a detailed description of the reasons for termination. Employee appeals related to the content of the U5 are arbitrated before FINRA (eg, if an employee challenges their termination).

Payments to retiring employees

FINRA prohibits paying commissions to unregistered persons, except for retired representatives receiving trailing commissions where a bona fide contract was entered into between the broker-dealer and the retiring employee.

California

California law prohibits the use of non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements that are designed to restrict an employee's ability to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including information pertaining to harassment or discrimination or any other conduct the employee has reason to believe is unlawful. Provisions protecting the identity of a claimant are permitted where requested by the claimant. California law also prohibits “no-rehire” provisions in settlements of employment disputes, with limited exceptions for employees whom the employer, in good faith, determined engaged in sexual harassment or sexual assault, or any criminal conduct.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

13. Are there any particular rules that apply in relation to the use of post-termination restrictive covenants for employees in the financial services sector?

13. Are there any particular rules that apply in relation to the use of post-termination restrictive covenants for employees in the financial services sector?

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

There are no specific rules for the financial services sector, except that they cannot have an effect that does not respect the caps for remuneration (see question 7).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Post-contractual non-compete obligations will typically only be binding when a severance payment is agreed upon that amounts to at least 50% of the pro-rated annual remuneration that the employee received before the obligation comes into force). It is advisable to regularly review for which roles such arrangements are agreed upon as they can be costly, and a unilateral waiver does not automatically eliminate the obligation to pay compensation, only if sufficient advance notice is given.

In the financial services sector, the severance payment for non-competition covenants is considered variable remuneration and subject to the same regulatory compensation rules (for example, section 5 paragraph 6 sentence 1 IVV, section 7 paragraph 4 No. 2 Draft Investment Firms Remuneration Ordinance). However, severance payments do not have to be factored into the ratio of variable to fixed remuneration according to section 25a paragraph 5 sentences 2 to 5 KWG if, subject to section 74 paragraph 2 of the German Commercial Code, the payments do not exceed the total fixed remuneration originally owed.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

There are no particular rules that apply concerning the use of post-termination restrictive covenants for employees in the financial services sector. The rules concerning post-termination restrictive covenants are governed by common law principles in which they will only be enforced if the restriction is necessary for the protection of the employer’s legitimate business interest and is reasonable in scope and duration.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

Post-termination non-competes are not enforceable, as they are treated as a restraint of trade. Courts have given prevalence to the livelihood of the employee over the employer’s interests. However, a reasonable non-solicit restriction may be enforceable in India.[1]

Employees in financial services are also bound by post-employment (for both resignation and retirement) obligations.[2] RBI employees[3] who cease to be in service should not accept or undertake “commercial employment”[4] for one year from the date on which they cease to be in service without the prior approval of the concerned authority. For SEBI employees[5], the cooling-off period is also one year. “Commercial employment”[6] broadly includes employment in any company or setting up their own practice without having professional qualifications and relying only on official experience. Such engagement may bestow an unfair advantage upon clients by virtue of the ex-employees’ prior experience at the organisation. The grant of prior approval by the concerned authority is dependent on whether there is any ensuing conflict of interest from such engagement.


[1] Employment Contracts in India: Enforceability of Restrictive Covenants, available at <https://www.nishithdesai.com/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/Research%20Papers/Employment_Contracts_in_India.pdf>

[2] Section 55, SEBI (Employees’ Service) Regulations 2001.

[3] General Administration Manual, RBI, available at <https://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/content/pdfs/71073.pdf>

[4] Section 2, Regulation 37A, RBI Staff Regulations, 1948.

[5] Section 55(3), SEBI (Employees’ Service) Regulations 2001.

[6] Section 55(2), SEBI (Employees’ Service) Regulations 2001; Section 2, Regulation 37A, RBI Staff Regulations, 1948.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

No, not particularly.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

Singapore law in relation to post-termination restrictive covenants is of general application and not specific to the financial services sector. Such restraints are prima facie void, but may be valid and enforceable if they are reasonable (both in the interests of the parties and the public), and if they go no further than what is necessary to protect a party’s legitimate proprietary interest.

The Singapore Courts have recognised that an employer has legitimate proprietary interests in its trade connections (commonly protected by restraints against the solicitation of clients or customers); the maintenance of a stable, trained workforce (commonly protected by restraints against the poaching of employees); and its confidential information and trade secrets (commonly protected by confidentiality restraints). This is not a closed list.

Non-competition clauses are however relatively more difficult to enforce as compared to other restrictive covenants, and they may not be enforceable at all under Singapore law as it presently stands if an employer’s legitimate proprietary interests are already covered by other restraints. Even then, it may still be possible for the employer to obtain an ex parte interim injunction for non-competition though.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

There are no particular rules that apply concerning the use of post-termination restrictive covenants for employees in the financial services sector in Switzerland. Rather, general post-contractual non-compete regulations come into play: the parties of an employment contract may agree on a non-compete clause, which must be included in the employment contract in writing to be valid. For the non-compete clause to be relevant, it must be sufficiently limited in terms of time, place and subject matter. Normally, the duration of a post-termination non-compete clause is no more than one year; however, the statutorily permissible duration is three years.

As a prerequisite for a contractual non-compete clause to be binding, access to sensitive data is required. The employee must either have access to customer data or manufacturing or business secrets. However, access alone is not enough. There must also be the possibility of harming the employer using this knowledge.

If a relationship between the customer and the employee or employer is personal (which is, for example, the case for lawyers or doctors), a post-termination non-compete clause is not applicable according to the Federal Supreme Court.

If there is an excessive non-compete clause, this can be restricted by a judge. In practice, most of the time, no restriction of the post-termination non-compete clause is imposed if the employer offers consideration in return for the agreement. The prohibition of competition may become invalid for two reasons. Firstly, the clause can become irrelevant if the employer has no more interest in maintaining the non-compete clause. Secondly, the clause is not effective if the employer has terminated the employment relationship. However, this does not apply if the employee has given the employer a reason to terminate the employment relationship.

Swiss employment law does not provide for any compensation for a post-termination non-compete clause.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The SM&CR does not regulate the use of post-termination restrictive covenants for employees in the financial services sector. It is fairly typical for financial services firms in the UK to include non-dealing, non-solicitation, non-compete and similar restrictive covenants in their employment contracts. These are subject to the same common law rules on interpretation and enforceability as in any other sector. The only caveat to this is that firms should ensure that such terms do not include any provision that might conflict with the regulatory duties of either the firm or the employee. This will be a rare occurrence in practice for most types of restrictive covenant, but could arise in respect of post-termination contractual obligations that are closely associated with restrictive covenants, namely those relating to confidentiality. As such, firms should ensure that confidentiality clauses in employment contracts or other agreements such as NDAs include appropriate carve-outs.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

The enforceability of restrictive covenants varies greatly depending on applicable state law. Many states impose specific requirements or limitations on enforceable covenants.

FINRA-regulated firms must comply with additional regulations:

  • FINRA rules prohibit interference with a customer’s choice to follow a former representative during a change in employment where there is no existing dispute with the customer about the account. The FINRA-registered agent must help transfer a customer’s account in the event of such a customer request. Note that this only explicitly affects requests by customers and not solicitation by a representative. A non-solicit provision might be upheld whereas a non-compete might not.
  • Broker-dealer firms that are signatories to the Protocol for Broker Recruiting are subject to additional requirements. Under this protocol, a departing employee may be permitted to take certain information regarding clients they serviced while at the firm to a new employer and use that information to solicit clients. Non-signatories are not bound to this protocol and can sue departing brokers for violating the terms of otherwise enforceable covenants.

Non-competes and so-called garden leave provisions are regularly included in termination documents. The enforceability of these covenants vary based on jurisdiction, with courts evaluating provisions based on duration and geographic scope.

New York

New York law disfavours non-compete agreements as a general rule. However, such agreements may be enforceable if the restrictions are reasonable and are intended to protect a legitimate interest. A court can enforce a non-compete only if the covenant:

  • is no greater than required to protect an employer’s legitimate interests;
  • does not impose undue hardship on the employee;
  • does not cause injury to the public; or
  • is reasonable in duration and geographic scope.

California

California law does not allow post-employment non-compete or non-solicit agreements except agreements involving the sale or dissolution of a business. California law protects employer confidential information and prohibits current or former employees from using employer confidential information in the solicitation of employees.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

14. Are non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) potentially lawful in your jurisdiction? If so, must they follow any particular form or rules?

14. Are non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) potentially lawful in your jurisdiction? If so, must they follow any particular form or rules?

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Belgium

  • at Van Olmen & Wynant

Employees must not, both during and after the termination of the contract, obtain, use or unlawfully disclose a business secret he or she became aware of in the course of his or her professional activity, or disclose the secrecy of any matter of a personal or confidential nature of which he or she became aware in the course of his or her professional activity (article 17, 3°, a, Employment Contracts Act).

The company can include an NDA in the employment contract to underline what is considered confidential information. A penalty clause (with a lump sum to be paid) can be foreseen in case of a breach after the end of the employment contract, but not during the period of the employment relationship. This is because of the prohibition on restricting the rights of employees or increasing their obligations in comparison with what is foreseen by the Employment Contracts Act (article 6).

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Germany

  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT
  • at KLIEMT

Under German law, it is permissible to enter into non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. In practice, NDAs are usually agreed upon in written or text form, although this is not legally required. If drafted for use in multiple cases, NDAs are subject to a particularly strict test to be effective: they must be transparent and may not unduly burden the employee under General Terms and Conditions legislation. NDAs should, therefore, only relate to very limited and specific information.

In practice, NDAs are difficult to enforce as it is the employer who must prove a culpable breach of contract, as well as damages resulting from such a breach. Employers should, therefore, also use other means to ensure data protection and confidentiality, such as properly defining and protecting business secrets under the Business Secrets Act; and implementing technical and organisational measures to limit access to certain information, which may include sharing information only on a need-to-know basis.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Hong Kong

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Non-disclosure agreements are legally enforceable in Hong Kong. They follow the contract law rules and there is no other particular form or rules. To be enforceable, a non-disclosure agreement must protect information that is both confidential and valuable. There are common exceptions where confidentiality will not apply to certain information, including information available in the public domain, information lawfully received from a third party without proprietary or confidentiality limitations, information known to the employee before first receipt of same from the employer, and information disclosed in circumstances required by law or regulatory requirement.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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India

  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates
  • at Nishith Desai Associates

NDAs are governed by the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and are generally lawful in India.

Generally, post-contract restrictive covenants like non-compete clauses that restrain a person’s exercise of lawful trade, profession or business are declared void because of Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act.

The enforceability of NDAs may be affected if they restrain an employee from exercising a lawful profession, trade or business. Accordingly, an NDA crafted to protect the “confidential information” of the former employer but not to impose the above-mentioned restraints on the employee is saved from any clash with Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act and is, therefore, enforceable in the courts of law in India. If NDAs prohibit an employee from disclosing commercial or trade secrets, then they cannot be held to be in restraint of trade. This was observed by the Bombay High Court in VFS Global Services Pvt Ltd v Mr Suprit Roy[1].


[1] 2008 (2) BomCR 446.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Netherlands

  • at CLINT | Littler
  • at CLINT | Littler

An NDA is lawful in the Netherlands. The law does not impose any further rules on the content of an NDA.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Singapore

Singapore

  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation
  • at TSMP Law Corporation

NDAs are generally lawful in Singapore, although the extent of their enforceability depends on their contents. For example, restrictive covenants can be subject to further scrutiny (see question 13). While not subject to any particular form or rules, employers should take particular care to specify the type of information protected under the NDA, so that employees have a clear understanding of the protected information – and to enhance the enforceability of the NDA.

Under Singapore common law, in addition to breach of contract, a party may also bring an action for breach of confidence. A plaintiff will have to show on the facts that the information is confidential and was imparted in circumstances giving rise to an obligation of confidence (including if confidential information has been accessed or acquired without a plaintiff’s knowledge or consent), which will then invoke the presumption of a breach of confidence. The burden will then fall on the defendant to rebut this presumption.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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Switzerland

  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss
  • at Walder Wyss

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are generally lawful in Switzerland. However, NDAs are not regulated by statutory law and therefore do not have to follow any particular statutory form or rule. Nevertheless, most NDAs often contain a similar basic structure.

The core clauses of an NDA concern:

  • manufacturing and business secrets or the scope of further confidentiality;
  • the purpose of use;
  • the return and destruction of devices containing confidential information; and
  • post-contractual confidentiality obligations.

As a general rule, it is recommended to use the written form.

To ensure possible enforcement of an NDA in the employment context, the requirements of a post-contractual non-compete obligation (see question 13) must be met.

Last updated on 23/01/2023

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United Kingdom

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

NDAs (also known as confidentiality agreements) are potentially lawful and enforceable in the UK. It is common to include NDAs in employment contracts (to protect the confidential information of the employer during and after employment) and in settlement agreements (to reiterate existing confidentiality obligations and to keep the circumstances of the settlement confidential).

NDAs do not need to follow a particular form, but they must be reasonable in scope. Following #MeToo, there has been considerable government, parliamentary, and regulatory scrutiny of the use of NDAs and their reasonableness in different circumstances.

The following limitations on NDAs should be noted:

  • By law, any NDA purporting to prevent an individual from making a “protected disclosure” as defined in the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ie, blowing the whistle about a matter) is void.
  • The regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), has issued a detailed warning notice and guidance to practitioners setting out – in its view – inappropriate or improper uses of NDAs. Failure to comply with the SRA’s warning notice may lead to disciplinary action. The SRA lists the following as examples of improper use of NDAs:
    • using an NDA as a means of preventing, or seeking to impede or deter, a person from:
      • cooperating with a criminal investigation or prosecution;
      • reporting an offence to a law enforcement agency;
      • reporting misconduct, or a serious breach of the SRA’s regulatory requirements, to the SRA, or making an equivalent report to any other body responsible for supervising or regulating the matters in question; and
      • making a protected disclosure;
      • using an NDA to influence the substance of such a report, disclosure or cooperation;
      • using an NDA to prevent any disclosure required by law;
      • using an NDA to prevent proper disclosure about the agreement or circumstances surrounding the agreement to professional advisers, such as legal or tax advisors, or medical professionals and counsellors, who are bound by a duty of confidentiality;
      • including or proposing clauses known to be unenforceable; and
      • using warranties, indemnities and clawback clauses in a way that is designed to, or has the effect of, improperly preventing or inhibiting permitted reporting or disclosures being made (for example, asking a person to warrant that they are not aware of any reason why they would make a permitted disclosure, in circumstances where a breach of warranty would activate a clawback clause).
         
  • The Law Society of England and Wales, a professional association representing solicitors in England and Wales, has issued similar guidance (including a practice note) on the use of NDAs in the context of the termination of employment relationships.
  • Other non-regulatory guidance on the use of NDAs has also been issued, including by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and by the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Care should be taken accordingly to ensure that the wording of any NDA complies with prevailing guidance, especially from the SRA.

Last updated on 22/01/2023

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United States

  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius
  • at Morgan Lewis & Bockius

Non-disclosure agreements are currently permissible under United States law with some exceptions, typically pertaining to whistleblower, harassment, and discrimination matters. On 7 December 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Speak Out Act, which prohibits the enforcement of non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions that were agreed to before an incident of workplace sexual assault or sexual harassment occurred. In other words, it does not prohibit these provisions in settlement or severance agreements.

Both Dodd-Frank and SOX prohibit employers from impeding an individual’s whistleblowing process. Confidentiality provisions should expressly authorise employee communications directly with, or responding to any inquiry from, or providing testimony before the SEC, FINRA, any other self-regulatory organisation or any other state or federal regulatory authority.

The United States Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 discourages NDAs in the settlement of sexual harassment claims. Under this law, employers settling claims alleging sexual harassment or abuse that include a confidentiality or non-disclosure provision in the settlement agreement cannot take a tax deduction for that settlement payment or related attorneys' fees.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees (except for supervisors) cannot be prohibited from discussing their compensation or working conditions

California

  • California Law prohibits NDAs that would prevent employees from discussing or disclosing their compensation or discussing the wages of others. However, California permits the use of a non-disclosure provision that may preclude the disclosure of any amount paid in any separation or settlement agreement.
  • California imposes restrictions on the use of non-disclosure provisions that are designed to restrict an employee's ability to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including information pertaining to harassment or discrimination or any other conduct the employee has reason to believe is unlawful in employment agreements, settlement agreements, and separation agreements.
  • California employers cannot:
    • require employees, in exchange for a raise or a bonus, or as a condition of employment or for continued employment, to sign any non-disparagement or non-disclosure provision that denies the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace;
    • include in any separation agreement a provision that prohibits the disclosure of information about unlawful acts in the workplace; or
    • include a provision within a settlement agreement that prevents or restricts the disclosure of factual information related to claims for sexual assault, sexual harassment, workplace harassment or discrimination, retaliation, or failure to prevent workplace harassment or discrimination that are filed in a civil or administrative action, unless the settlement agreement is negotiated, which means that the agreement is voluntary, deliberate, informed, provides consideration of value to the employee, and the employee is giving notice and an opportunity to retain an attorney or is represented by an attorney.

New York

  • New York law prohibits NDAs that:
    • prevent an employee from discussing or disclosing their wages or the wages of another employee.
    • prevent an employee from disclosing factual information related to a future discrimination claim, unless the agreement notifies employees that it does not prevent them from speaking to the EEOC, the New York Department of Human Rights, and any local human rights commission or attorney retained by the individual.

New York law also prohibits employers from mandating confidentiality or non-disclosure provisions when settling sexual harassment claims (though allows such provisions where it is the employee’s preference to include them).

Last updated on 22/01/2023