What is an IAF and SEAR - Individual Accountability Framework and Senior Executive Accountability Regime?

The Introduction of an Individual Accountability Framework (IAF) and Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) places obligations on firms and senior individuals within them to set out clearly where responsibility and decision-making lies.

The origins and basis of SEAR and what will soon become legal and regulatory requirements come from the following:

  • Central Bank of Ireland’s July 2018 report, Behaviour and Culture of the Irish Retail Bank; and
  • Department of Finance’s publication in July 2021 of the General Scheme of the Central Bank (Individual Accountability Framework) Bill 2021 (the Bill).

A recurring theme within the Central Bank of Ireland’s report and other publications is the need for cultural change to occur within the financial services industry to regain consumer and investor trust and ensure business models are sustainable.

Arising from the 2008 financial crisis many of Europe’s central banks and central banks further afield have been pursuing the objective of improving the culture and promoting accountability alongside strengthening their conduct and prudential regulation regimes.

The proposals

The Bill contains few surprises and includes the core elements as expected, specifically

IAF and SEAR

The introduction of a SEAR places obligations on firms and senior individuals within them to set out clearly where responsibility and decision-making lies.

Conduct Standards 

The introduction of three distinct sets of conduct standards:

  1. Common conduct standards to apply to all individuals in controlled functions;
  2. Additional conduct standards for individuals in senior positions; and
  3. Business conduct standards for all firms.

Fitness and Probity(F&P)

Enhancements to the F&P regime to support the effective operation of the IAF.

Participation Link

The Bill proposes to break the current “participation link”. This link currently requires the CBI to prove a contravention of financial services legislation against an RFSP before it can take action against an individual.

RFSPs in-scope

Banks, investment firms and insurance firms all fall within the scope of the legislation. However, specifically with respect to the SEAR requirements, the following firms will be in-scope initially:

  1. Credit institutions, excluding credit unions;
  2. Insurance undertakings, excluding reinsurance undertakings, captive (re)insurance undertakings and insurance special purpose vehicles;
  3. Investment firms that underwrite on a firm commitment basis and/or deal on their own account and /or are authorised to hold client monies/assets; and
  4. Third country branches of the above.

How Mazars can help

Our expert team has significant first-hand experience implementing SEAR accountability frameworks. Find out more on our Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) service page. 

Find out more on our financial services blog in the article Positive behavioural and cultural change: the implementation of an accountability framework.

The first IAF awareness and readiness survey report. Mazars and the Compliance Institute surveyed the compliance institute members to measure the level of preparedness, views and expectations of financial services professionals and their preparedness for the impending for the IAF and SEAR.

Download the survey results

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