Consumer Duty (CD) has been in the news throughout 2023 as the 31 July deadline drew closer.
The purpose of CD is to give clients greater transparency about how their financial planning needs are being met. It insists that firms put customers’ needs and outcomes first, and asks businesses to prove that they are meeting these standards consistently.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says: “Our rules require firms to consider the needs, characteristics and objectives of their customers – including those with characteristics of vulnerability – and how they behave, at every stage of the customer journey. As well as acting to deliver good customer outcomes, firms will need to understand and evidence whether those outcomes are being met.”
It’s likely that you have spent the past few months preparing for CD within your own firm, and now it has arrived, you’ll be busy rising to the challenges it will present.
If you need support in this area, don’t panic – you’re not alone. Here are six areas in which our network can help you adapt to CD.
1. Cutting through the media noise
One of the reasons that we haven’t published numerous articles about CD is that it may not be useful to add to the media noise that has surrounded these regulations throughout the year.
As a network run by IFAs for IFAs, we’re working behind the scenes to ensure all our members are prepared for these regulations, while ignoring any speculation that may be distracting to advisers.
Now that CD has come into force, we’ll cut through the media noise where necessary and provide up to date information to our members as things progress.
2. Compliance and due diligence
One of the most important areas of your practice that is likely to be affected by CD is compliance and due diligence.
The FCA will require more paperwork to prove that your clients are consistently supported with compliant financial management, and that the appropriate level of research has been done. So, you could find that your compliance workload stacks up overnight.
Fortunately, our network provides full compliance support, including:
- Access to top software
- File checking
- Annual firm audits
- Marketing material checking.
With our support in hand, you could offset the pressure CD could place on your firm.
In a similar vein, the role of qualified paraplanners is essential to providing a foundation for your business.
Our award-nominated paraplanning team perform rigorous product and fund research on our members’ behalf, and provide correct, on-time paperwork to members on an ad-hoc basis. These elements are integral to CD, and in turn, small firms may struggle to meet the CD standards without highly qualified paraplanners on their side.
We provide full paraplanning support to our members, enabling them to continue focusing on client relationships while meeting CD regulations at every stage.
4. Training and continued professional development
As the FCA continues to introduce new regulations that support customer outcomes, financial planners and advisers are tasked with updating their knowledge and practice to meet these requirements.
As such, CD provides the perfect opportunity for IFAs to brush up on their continued professional development (CPD) and undergo any training that can supplement your practice. This could include:
- Attending webinars and workshops on client communication
- Obtaining further qualifications, such as Chartered status, to better serve the needs of your clients moving forward
- Seeking mentorship from other IFAs.
We run multiple training and qualification programmes each year, designed to help both budding and seasoned IFAs improve in any area they choose. Working sustainably within CD guidelines might mean you need to invest in your CPD, and our network can provide you with this framework.
A central tenet of CD is communication. Financial planners are now required to prove that they are doing the work behind the scenes, and that they are communicating this essential information to clients in a way that they can understand.
Despite the need for better communication, one area you may not have thought to focus on in the run-up to CD is marketing. Without an easy-to-use website and regular, readable communication with clients, it could be hard to consistently meet CD requirements going forward.
Here at Corbel, we provide members with a website template that allows them to build a unique brand within a standardised framework. On this basis, you can improve your firm’s marketing efforts and lead the charge for better customer communication in your business.
6. One-to-one support from network leaders
As CD regulations come into force, you might go through an adjustment period – not just in the day-to-day running of your firm, but personally, too.
Increased paperwork might feel stressful, and you may encounter difficulties when juggling client relationships with CD requirements.
Our firm heads, Paul and David, take the time to have regular one-to-ones with all members to ensure that they are supported in every step of their careers. No matter your experience level as an IFA, Paul and David can help answer questions, and offer support if you are feeling overwhelmed.
Get in touch to become part of an award-winning network
Our award-winning network can provide you with support, no matter what stage of your financial advice career you’re at.
To find out more about becoming a member, or to learn about CD support for existing members, email email@example.com or call 01925 637891.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice.