The FCA Register is a database that can be accessed online by the general public as an aid for anyone wanting to find help with money advice and financial planning issues. This public record holds details on companies, individuals and other bodies that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and/or the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Information is also held on firms that were regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which was the predecessor to the FCA.
This means that all parties that appear on the register are expected to abide by the rules that the FCA put in place to oversee the sector. As anyone working in the industry knows, the FCA is the UK’s regulation and supervisory body that is responsible for over 50,000 financial products and services firms, as well as financial advisers and other operators. Although the public may not be aware of the FCA and the role that it plays in protecting their rights, the Register is being increasingly publicised so that more people will make use of it.
As the importance of the database grows in the public perception, it makes it more obvious that you can use it to improve trust with your new investor leads and also existing clients.
Why do people search the Register?
When a member of the public wants to find a financial adviser, they will be faced with a multitude of search options. The Register provides them with a respected and authoritative source of information, and this makes it a prime tool for anyone looking to maximise their pension transfer leads.
People might search the Register to find out whether a firm that they are already using is there, or they might be doing their own due diligence on someone with whom they are considering doing business. Obviously, an entity that is authorised by the FCA and is fully registered and transparently present on the database will have an immediate advantage over those that are not. A search is quite straightforward as all the information that is needed is a firm’s, individual’s or financial services product’s name, reference number (FRN) or postcode.
The information that is available includes basic details such as:
- Main contact details
- Trading names
- The “status” of a firm or individual (authorised or approved)
- The regulated activities that the firm can provide and “permissions” for activities
- If a firm is covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service
- If a firm is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
Other information that is presented can include details on individuals who work in authorised firms and who perform certain “approved” tasks.
The aims of the Register
In order to assess how to use the Register to improve trust with both existing clients and financial adviser leads, you really need to understand what it actually sets out to do. This really comes down to the simple aim of empowering members of the public who are searching for financial advice or products information that can help them make the best choice.
This means that in order to make the most of it for your own ends, you need to ensure that all the relevant information that the Register holds on you or your company is accurate and up to date.
The Register must be accurate and contain the necessary information in order for it to fulfil its aims and be a valuable and worthwhile tool for the public. Anyone who is offering genuine financial investment advice should realise that it is in their interests to be fully represented on the Register, but it is actually also the responsibility of the FCA to ensure accuracy. In fact, a recent court ruling left the regulator liable to pay in excess of £22,000 compensation due to its failure in keeping the Register updated.
Finding qualified leads for financial advisers is hard due to the amount of competition in the sector, so it stands to reason that anything that can help you stand out from your rivals is something that should be embraced.
Any sanctions or regulatory restrictions imposed on a company are not currently available in the Register. Some think that the public image of the sector would be helped in its continuing efforts to reach maximum transparency if this were so. Also, it would help you as one of the “good guys” to know that less scrupulous competitors were being exposed in such a public manner.
However, firms that the FCA have been told about that are providing regulated services or products without the correct authorisation, or that are known to be deliberately running scams, are now flagged up on the Register by using prominent warnings. Other information that the Register now carries on unauthorised firms includes any different details they use that might confuse people and also whether they falsely claim to be from a firm that is authorised when in fact it is not.
It is plain to see that the Register can be an extremely useful resource for you in your search for investor leads as long as you are playing by the rules in the first place. It can be a big plus point in building trust if you let your customers and prospects know that if they choose a rival firm or individual that is not regulated, then they might not benefit from cover by the Financial Ombudsman Service or FSCS.
By being fully authorised and registered, your own reliability and legitimacy will be apparent to even the most novice investor. Moreover, as the public profile of the Register grows, it will itself become a trusted and valuable tool for the financial advice industry.