Financial Promotions – what needs sign of by compliance.
I have had a long and hard think about this over the past week or so, mainly due to a good number of IFA’s being concerned about “ business prevention department” stopping you from making more money by providing value and service to your potential clients. Now as you know we build Lead Generation Machines for IFA’s and want these to be effective for you.
In making them effective some information will need to be presented in a manner that gets your client or potential client to move their backside out the chair and make a call to you, or send an email, to make contact. Question is – is this information a Financial Promotion?
Now you will have have you own processes, and I really don’t want to upset any anyone’s firework party by taking a long wee on the fire. But in the main much of what your potential clients are looking for on the internet and in other written material will not initially mean you making a financial promotion, indeed you would be foolish to do so.
How would I know, well having supervised IFA’s for some 12 years, having constructed big chunks of a compliance manual and helping devise one of the first Asset Allocation Models in the UK. I think I am qualified to comment. Importantly for the work we do with Regulated Firms we have our our own Compliance Consultancy handy eh! As I keep on saying, we take this business of ours, getting business for you bloody seriously.
So what does the regulator say.
A financial promotion is a communication that is an invitation or an inducement to engage in investment activity.
In other words, there is an element of persuasion. A communication that merely informs or educates will not normally be a financial promotion. An inducement is intended to lead, ultimately, to an agreement to engage in investment activity. So an advertisement by a firm claiming customers will make a fortune by investing in securities, and that the firm can help them invest, is an inducement to engage in investment activity.
We define the term ‘engage in investment activity’ and it may not include some activities thought of as financial services. For instance, financial services price comparison websites are not financial promotions (unless they promote particular products or services) because simply comparing prices is not an investment activity. ( hy does that not surprise me or you).
So without meaning to sound like David Beckham…’at the end of the day’ this is your business, something you have ‘strived’ and worked hard for over many years, probably through many ‘toils and tribulations’, your client’s trust you, why should you not think ‘outside the box’ and be scared of compliance……
Okay the Financial Services Authority has set rules in place to ‘Treat Customers Fairly’ (TCF) but not being allowed to communicate with your clients and potential clients in a ‘generic manner’ is totally opposite to that and is absolutely not treating your client’s (and potential clients) fairly…
There is no need to jump through ‘compliance hoops’ or to pay for ‘financial promotions sign off’ which takes time and also costs you money for nearly all communication via a Website, Email, SMS or other electronic and written communication!! What is next….Do you need sign off before you answer the phone!! We are in an age of instant communication where if you do not respond to an enquiry, be it via a SMS Message, an e-mail or Phone Call that client will go elsewhere. As a business you owe it to yourself and your client’s to have the tools to hand to be able to service your client’s needs. That is TCF…………!!!!
The Richard Smith have have been doing this for long enough now to know what works and I wanted to clear up what is what is not acceptable.
You are entitled to your opinion and you are entitled to comment on whatever Financial or other matter you want using whatever method you decide to use. Now, if your own internal compliance gets in the way of that perhaps you need to find a way, your business really does depend on you getting your message out there.
Anyway, rant over now can we all get back to meeting the demands of our customers and move forward.
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