End-to-end support for your business
We help you every step of the way
From the outset, you must ensure that a ‘culture of compliance’ is in place. That includes the correct documentation, robust complaints procedures and processes and the right attitude. So, for example your staff need to implicitly understand what ‘treating customers fairly’ actually means in practice. They should be able to carefully and confidently consider whether the customer understands risk; whether the right choice is being made; and if fair advice is being given.
As well as a clear understanding of responsibilities, consumer credit authorisation also involves a core set of documents and procedures to be put in place. Getting these right first time is key to your application going smoothly.
After that, you will have a range of ongoing responsibilities as well as recurring reporting requirements.
We can help with all of the above.
We will talk you through the permission you need to apply for (limited or full). We will also discuss your background and business in order to identify any issues that may impact your application. We then advise you on the documents, plans and procedures needed and help you put them in place. This includes but is not limited to:
- Regulatory business plan
- Compliance plan and monitoring program
- Risk management arrangements
- Advice on how to treat customers fairly
- Data protection requirements
We support and guide you through all the key stages of the application process from helping you and your staff to prepare, submitting your forms and documents, dealing with any subsequent correspondence regarding your application and training your staff on what will be expected once you have consumer credit authorisation in place.
Choose the level of application service support you need. We can work alongside you to produce bespoke documents, or we can provide our standard templated documents for you to complete yourself.
It’s a comprehensive service designed to make the process as easy and stress free as possible for you.
The rigors of compliance can be minefield to navigate. The legislation can seem difficult to apply to your particular situation or business and can therefore need interpreting by an expert familiar with their practical application. What applies for one business may not apply for another – but it is vital to get it right.
We understand you want to do things properly and with the least amount of fuss – so we make it simple for you, advising what you need to do, and why, in straightforward terms. We also offer learning tools to keep your staff up-to-speed too.
Via our ongoing support service, you can always speak to an advisor and get clear instructions on what needs to be done. We stay on top of any changes in consumer credit law and keep you informed as needed. That way, you can concentrate on the day-to-day requirements of your business, safe in the knowledge that we have your consumer credit compliance needs covered.
How we help you
- Approved Person responsibilities
As you would expect, in order to keep your consumer credit authorisation current, you will need to provide regular updates to the FCA. You will need to appoint an Approved Person who understands the FCA requirements. This can be someone within your business who we support, or we can take over the responsibilities on your behalf.
- Treating customers fairly
This is a core principle of the legislation that does leave some room for interpretation which can be confusing. In essence, the actions, behaviours and/or outcomes of your business activities and staff must meet the regulator’s expectations on fairness. We make sure that everyone understands what is expected, providing clarity if needed.
- Advertising and financial promotions
These must be clear, inambiguous and likely to be understood by your target audience otherwise you risk further investigation by the FCA. It is easy to get things wrong (often unintentionally) – but get it right and your customers will see your business in a more professional light. We check your website and customer collateral for you as needed.
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- Regulatory returns and GABRIEL reporting
GABRIEL is the FCA’s online system for collecting and storing regulatory data. You will need to submit regular reports covering a range of areas including financial information, complaint numbers and resolution, changes year on year etc. We help by reducing stress and giving clear, timely guidance to help you avoid the problems arising from late reporting.
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- Complaints handling
Occasionally things can go wrong, and a customer complains. If this does happen, we are on hand to advise you and your staff how to handle the complaint and nip things in the bud. An early resolution maximises the changes of an acceptable outcome for all parties and hopefully avoids ending up in court.
- Changes in the law
We keep a close eye on any legislative changes and advise you of your responsibilities. Most importantly, we make sure you understand what is changing, why, how it will impact your business and any action you need to take. GDPR is a good example.
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- Advice and guidance
We’re there at the end of the phone or on email when you need us. That could be for a specific question, or guidance in using the new FCA’s i-receivables online invoicing system for example.
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- Practical support
We can do plenty to relieve the burden on you and your staff. For example, we can complete FCA Standing Data Changes on your behalf (including notification of changes to your Approved Person(s), Ownership / Controller(s), trading name or business address, website details or contact details); adding or removing permissions (limited permissions only); or assisting with the compilation of your Compliance Monitoring Programme Document for example. Just ask.
Your business relies on advertising and marketing to attract new customers. Once you begin offering point of sale consumer credit, it is imperative that all your promotional activity is compliant at all times. That includes your website, direct mail, online or printed advertising and any other ways in which you promote your business.
How can we help?
- Before you go to print, publish, or upload your promotional material, let us check that you are meeting FCA expectations.
- We can undertake a regular website check against the FCA CONC Sourcebook to identify problems and recommend improvements. (The Sourcebook is regularly updated so your site needs to be checked regularly too.)
- We make it easy for you by categorising compliance issues identified as either advisory or requiring immediate action, so you are clear how to proceed.
Key points to remember
- Your financial promotions are a very visible way to demonstrate to the FCA that you treat your customers fairly. If you get this first wrong, your business will face further scrutiny.
- Your financial promotions (including your website) must be clear, fair and not misleading.
- You must provide balanced information – an advert or promotion can be misleading by omission.
- Your marketing activity must be likely to be understood by your target audience. This is particularly important if your target market could be considered vulnerable.
We can help you with the various compliance documents required by your business – either by working alongside you to produce what is needed, or by offering templates and guidance so that you can undertake these important tasks in-house.
Regulatory Business Plan
Every FCA application for consumer credit authorisation must include a Regulatory Business Plan. This document gives the FCA clear details of your business and how it will meet the required threshold conditions as well as how your company operates and intends to meet the ongoing regulatory requirements post-authorisation.
Compliance Policies and Procedures
You must have all the relevant compliance policies and procedures fully documented and available on request for inspection by the FCA. We work with you to create a set of these documents to incorporate into your business.
Compliance Monitoring Programme Document
This is a key part of your compliance policies and procedures as it details the areas subject to review. It clearly states what is reviewed, how often and by whom. It plays an important role in showing exactly how you and your staff actively comply with your compliance obligations.
We offer advice and guidance to help your business comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
GDPR is the most recent set of data protection regulations, effective in the UK from May 2018 onwards.
GDPR applies to any organisation that collects, hold or uses personal information. This includes information about your customers as well as your employees.
How we help
- Conduct a review of your data protection policies and procedures
- Draft a GDPR compliance manual for your business
- Explain GDPR responsibilities to your staff.
A word of warning
It is important to comply with GDPR rules as the risks are high. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can issue fines of up to €10 million or 2% of global turnover for certain categories of breaches and up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover for other categories of breaches.
Sometimes your questions, concerns or challenges are not easily addressed by our core service offering. In these circumstances, we tailor our support to fit your exact requirements. This can be provided in various ways – but we will work with you to ensure we create the best fit service for your business from the outset.
We are also very happy to provide consultancy support to clients at any stage in the consumer credit journey including pre-application, during application, or once authorisation has been granted.
We can respond to ad hoc requests as well as offering an ongoing support partnership.
Common compliance consultancy activities
- Specific advice or guidance chargeable by the hour
- Guidance on which consumer credit authorisation application is right for your business
- Support on dealing with questions from the FCA
- Onsite or remote review of your policies and procedures
- Checking your documentation and making recommendations where required