Treating Customers Fairly
The Financial Services Authority (FCA) is an independent non-governmental body responsible for the regulation of the financial services industry in the United Kingdom. Its board is appointed by the Treasury and it is funded entirely by the firms it regulates. One of the FCA’s statutory objectives is consumer protection. The FCA’s Principles for Business, Principle 6 (Customers Interests) states ‘A firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.’ Paradigm Financial Advisers Limited (PFA) strongly supports this Principle and, as such, is committed to providing the highest level of service to all of its customers.
The FCA’s objective is to create a fairer and more effective financial services sector. The aim of this page is to outline PFA’s approach to Principle 6 of the Financial Conduct Authority’s Principles for Business and how it will put it into practice.
a) Paying due regard to customers information needs
b) Communicating information in a way that is fair and not misleading; and
c) Managing any conflicts of interests fairly.
Paradigm Financial Advisers Responsibilities
PFA will look at all areas of its business on a regular basis to ensure that:
- Customers can be confident that they are dealing with a firm where the fair treatment of customers is central to the firm’s culture.
- PFA and its appointed representative firms consider its customers when promoting new services and products and ensure that they are relevant to them.
- PFA’s customers are provided with clear information and firms ensure customers are kept informed before, during, and after the point of sale.
- Where advice is provided, PFA firms takes time to understand its customers’ situation and ensures that advice is suitable and appropriate.
- PFA meets its customer’s expectations, providing them with a level of service and products that are of an acceptable standard.
- PFA will ensure that its customers can make complaints without any undue barriers.
PFA Appointed Representatives’ Responsibilities
PFA expects the fair treatment of customers to be central to the behaviour and values of all firms. All staff and advisers are required to have a good understanding of what fair treatment means to both PFA and their own firms and what their responsibilities are to ensure delivery of this to all clients.
- Business strategy and decisions are aligned with the fair treatment of customers and processes are in place to demonstrate this.
- Positive behaviour and attitudes towards the fair treatment of customers are key measures for the selection of staff and advisers. The results of effective training and maintenance of staff knowledge and behaviour is evident and any reward structure is transparent and recognise the fair treatment of customers.
- PFA helps its firms embed a strong culture of fair treatment within their businesses and helps them measure it. PFA provides guidance to help firms identify existing practices which already treat customers fairly and to provide firms with ideas of ways in which they can improve outcomes for customers.
- PFA provides support to firms in relation to TCF and provides guidance on how it can help firms meet their TCF objectives.
Whilst firms may have their own policies on culture and leadership, business strategy, remuneration, incentives and staff recruitment and so on, it is essential that they follow PFA’s written and verbal guidance in order to integrate, as required, with sales process and advice, communications both internal and external, including financial promotions and stationery, staff recruitment and training, complaints and customer satisfaction. The central core principle with regard to everything a PFA firm must do is to treat the customers fairly.