IFA compliance and the cloudon 13 November 2014
Independent financial advisers (IFAs) are subject to heavy compliance by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with their every action audited – from how they carry out their customer fact find and assess a client’s appetite for risk, to all discussions they have with their clients along with each and every financial product recommendation they make.
An important element of the FCA’s Treating Customers Fairly initiative – which aims to ensure IFAs’ recommendations are in line with a client’s appetite for risk – the issue of management information (MI) can be a compliance headache for IFAs. If they don’t keep meticulous records of meetings and discussions with clients and the way they supply customers with confidential information is by email (which is far from a secure method of distributing sensitive information), they can easily come unstuck when it’s time to be audited.
For example, TCF MI requires IFAs to receive, understand and review MI, with unexpected results challenged and data analysed and monitored, as well as acted on. Records should also be made of any actions carried out, says the FCA, including all communications between advisers and clients as well as details of all financial product recommendations.
However keeping records of all activities – especially when teams of advisers work across the same accounts – may not be as simple as it sounds.
One way IFAs can overcome these compliance issues is by using online cloud-based portals such as Glasscubes. Glasscubes offers a more efficient and simpler way of working, both for IFAs and their clients, with all discussions and documents stored in one area – making the information easily accessible to auditors.
Indeed, many major players in this industry are already using cloud-based technology for a variety of reasons, including the following:
IFAs who share information with clients via an extranet such as that provided by Glasscubes can have discussions with them privately and securely – which removes the need for emails (and therefore the possibility that messages and attached documents could be sent to the wrong client or forwarded by mistake).
Documents are secure in Glasscubes, thanks to its state-of-the-art 2048-bit encryption, and are backed up daily to servers in two different data centre locations. There’s also no possibility that clients or partners who have access to the service will be able to read any files they don’t have permissions for by accident, as IFAs have complete control over the sharing of all content.
With Glasscubes, all discussions and documents are stored, so it’s simple to keep track of communications with clients as well as keep records of any financial products that are recommended. You can set up folders for clients, so everything can be saved in one place – which makes it easy to produce the relevant records for auditing purposes.
The customer relationship management (CRM) tools in Glasscubes also allow IFAs to manage prospects as well as client activities centrally. So if, for instance, an adviser is away, another team members can access information about their clients – such as recent conversations and recommendations – and take any necessary action, without having to wait for the original adviser to return to the office.
Email may be convenient, but it doesn’t compare with having your own branded portal. Glasscubes isn’t just easy to set up, it can also be personalised with your logo and corporate colours, which looks far more professional to clients and business partners than receiving emails from a Hotmail account.
Clients and partners also have their own secure password-protected log-in, and as the tools are so easy to use, no special training is necessary.
More cost effective
The low cost of cloud-based tools means IFAs have lower overheads and can pass the savings onto their clients. While Glasscubes offers a range of communication tools, it’s relatively inexpensive, with the modest monthly subscription fee based on the number of users. And because there are no additional IT requirements with Glasscubes, it saves on capital expenditure too.
IFA firms using cloud-based services such as Glassworks can provide their adviser employees with access to communication tools and file sharing wherever they are, whether at the office, at home or on the road. This also helps businesses meet regulatory data security compliance, since if a computer or laptop goes astray or is stolen, all data remain safely stored in the cloud.
This is just a glimpse of how Glasscubes could benefit your IFA business. To find out more, send us an email or call us on +44 (0)20 3174 2310.
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