Central Bank’s inspection targets 325 non-compliant retail intermediary firms

23 March 2016 Press Release
  • 325 firms that were not meeting minimum regulatory reporting obligations targeted. 134 firms have since sought voluntary revocation of their authorisations. 171 firms are now meeting reporting obligations.
  • Further supervisory powers will be utilised in relation to the remaining 20 firms.
  • A large number of the 171 firms that submitted annual returns revealed potential areas of non-compliance with key regulatory requirements, which are being pursued by the Central Bank.

The Central Bank today announced its targeted inspection of intermediaries that were not compliant with minimum reporting requirements has resulted in the majority of firms either becoming compliant or revoking their authorisations. The inspection consisted of intensive engagement with 325 retail intermediaries that had failed to submit Annual Returns, including unannounced on-site visits to 127 firms, spanning 23 counties, over a 14-week period.

Director of Consumer Protection Bernard Sheridan stated:

The Central Bank has a strong consumer protection framework in place to ensure that customers of retail intermediaries are protected. Although many of these firms are small and are categorised as low impact under the Central Bank’s risk assessment framework, we have a clear and tailored strategy in place for these firms which includes the analysis of annual online returns and regular thematic inspections of the sector.

While this targeted approach may be resource intensive, it has resulted in increased overall compliance in the retail intermediary sector with 92 per cent now meeting reporting obligations which will enable us to effectively supervise them.

The Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Outlook Report 2016 highlighted our continued focus on firms that are not meeting regulatory obligations and, due to the successful outcome from this targeted engagement, more on-site visits have already commenced to deal with the remaining non-compliant firms.”

The Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Outlook Reports in 2015 and 2016 highlighted firms that are not meeting regulatory obligations as an area of supervisory focus. Since 2011 retail intermediaries are required to submit an annual online return to the Central Bank. This is a key supervisory tool providing an efficient supervisory approach using automatic alerts to identify key risk indicators, such as when a retail intermediary fails key financial health checks or fails to have the correct level of Professional Indemnity Insurance in place. Not submitting an Annual Return can pose a serious threat to the Central Bank’s objectives, as non-compliance in one area can often be a sign of wider issues which can negatively impact on consumers.


The Central Bank is responsible for supervising over 2,600 retail intermediaries, which vary in activity (insurance, re-insurance, investment and mortgage intermediation) and in size, from subsidiaries of large multi-nationals/insurance companies/credit institutions to one-person operations. In Ireland, this sector plays an important role ensuring that its consumers can access financial products and the information they need to make well informed decisions on insurance, investment and mortgage products, ranging from home and car insurance to more complex longer-term products like pensions and mortgages.

Retail intermediaries are supervised by a combination of on-site and off-site monitoring. While supervisory teams do not conduct regular face to face meetings with every retail intermediary, the Central Bank consistently monitors the sector through desk based analysis of financial returns, thematic reviews, risk-based supervision and inspections.