How do I go about choosing one?
The FCA has provided some guidance on using a compliance consultant
If you are thinking about engaging a compliance consultant there are three key areas to consider:
identifying your needs;
agreeing the terms on which you will work together; and
acting on the recommendations given.
An independent compliance audit or regulatory risk assessment may help to identify weak areas in your current processes and practices. From this you may identify particular areas of concern and determine the level of support you require.
A key decision will be how you will monitor your business to ensure that compliance processes are being followed. You will want to know the level of experience of the consultant with whom you are working and how they keep up to date with regulatory and product changes. Get references and check them.
Think about how you will satisfy yourself that your consultant is providing the service you need and whether their work has helped?
From the FCA “Make sure you consider the advice and information given to you by your consultant. You are paying for this service, so you should act where necessary to ensure you are compliant. If you have introduced new procedures, make sure all staff are aware of them, and follow them. For significant issues, you may want to check with the FCA. When reviewing compliance with our requirements, we expect firms to have acted on recommendations from consultants where appropriate.”
What services should I expect to receive?
The FCA have identified a list of common services provided by compliance consultants. It is unlikely that you will require all of them but it is worth checking with firms you consider using to identify whether they are able to provide the ones you need.
Initial risk assessment or audit – an initial analysis to help identify risk areas of the business and weaknesses in procedures.
Business development – business analysis advice or advice on particular issues.
Help with setting up procedures – for example procedural manuals and templates for key documents.
File audits – checking that procedures are being followed with good practices and weaknesses being identified.
Technical support – may include advice on particular products or regulatory reporting.
Training – for example needs identification, competency assessments, training solutions.
Support on individual issues – for example in dealing with a complaint, a financial promotion or a particular suitability letter.
PII cover – help arranging cover.
Remedial work – helping to action remedial work required by the FSA.
Will there be an end to regulatory ‘creep’?
It certainly seems that regulation is a growth industry both from the FCA and also from Europe. We do not foresee this slowing down and further turbulence in markets will only reinforce the view held by politicians that more regulation is always the right answer.
By monitoring developments and providing feedback to the FCA directly and through our professional body we can hope to influence the outcomes. We will also be able to consider the implications for our clients’ businesses so that processes can be amended in plenty of time before change is compulsory.