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SimplyBiz: Always consider the CONC code


SimplyBiz: Always consider the CONC code

Last week, I wrote about communicating with clients and prospective clients.

I worte predominantly about the effectiveness of different methods of communication in certain circumstances, but I also briefly mentioned the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) financial promotion rules (which can be found in full in section 3 of the CONC handbook). Since then, a few readers have been in touch to ask for more information, which is a positive sign as getting your financial promotions right is a key element for every firm now regulated by the FCA. As with all output issued by the regulator, I would strongly encourage you to read the relevant section of the handbook in full; the detail will doubtlessly prove useful to you when working out how the rules need to be applied to your firm’s operations and processes specifically. However, below is a quick summary of the major points to observe in the way you communicate to existing or potential customers.

  • If you were ever a scout or a brownie as a youngster, I’m sure that the words “I promise I will do my best…” are forever etched in your memory. The FCA version of this – the CONC code – is that all communications need to be clear, fair and not misleading. Those three points need to be your mantra as you prepare any piece of material designed to be seen by the consumer: your site, your emails, direct mail, social media. Before anything is issued externally, you need to be 100% confident that it adheres to some key criteria:

 

  • Is it obvious that it is a financial promotion? 
  • Does it explain the risks, as well as the benefits, for consumers?
  • Is it in plain English?
  • Does it set out that not all individuals are eligible for the service? Or that it may not be beneficial to all individuals? 
  • In order to be compliant, your communications need to be transparent. 

 

  • You also need to ensure that it is 100% clear who is issuing the communication. The name of the firm needs to be evident – a trading style or product brand alone is not sufficient. Any consumer reading the promotion or communication needs to be made completely aware of the areas within your business that are regulated, and by whom. There needs to be contact details placed prominently and, when it’s a communication to someone with whom you are entering a contract, they need to understand what to do if they have a complaint.

 

Of course, you want your marketing material to paint an attractive picture of your services. However, be sure that everything you say is balanced and true. If you produce a comparison between your service and that of another provider, it must be handled fairly and produce an honest overview, not one which is biased to show your offering in a better light. Make no guarantees about what your service will provide in a wider scale without knowing a customer’s individual circumstances. You’ll notice that CONC suggests that you must govern this regulation within your firm. Please note that this is not giving you free reign to implement the rules into your procedures as you think relevant; it means that you have responsibility for ensuring that the guidance is adhered to, documented and retained in the customers file.

Fortunately, working with an organisation like the SimplyBiz Group means that our specialist team will keep you up-to-date with what you need to do, the practicalities of how to approach it and the regularity with which it needs to happen, so that you don’t have to do it all yourself. If you want help with not only marketing and business development, but also adapting to FCA regulation and keeping compliant on an ongoing basis, please get in touch with us on 01484 443 424.





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