Never far from the headlines, getting suitability right is a constant challenge for most wealth management and financial planning firms. And we’ve been working on suitability with a variety of clients for the last seven years or more, helping them to keep pace with the developing landscape and stay out of trouble with the FCA.

The team’s experience is drawn from in-house compliance roles with wealth managers and financial advice networks; consultancy roles at the big four and working on wealth management projects at the regulator.

Common suitability issues we come across

  • obtaining and maintaining quality, up to date client information
  • ensuring portfolios are properly aligned to the client’s mandate
  • ensuring the adequacy of risk-profiling processes and discussions
  • using professional judgement to assess capacity for loss, rather than relying on clients’ self-assessment
  • focussing client file reviews on whether suitable outcomes are achieved, rather on whether the process has been followed
  • embedding a suitability culture throughout the front-office, and encouraging front office management to take ownership of suitability.

Here’s a few of the things we can do:

Suitability health-checks

Benchmarking your suitability processes and client outcomes against your peers. Because we work with a wide variety of firms in this area, we know what good looks like, what the FCA would expect to see and how your performance would be judged in that context.

Back book reviews

We can undertake file review exercises of any size – from ten files to 500 – with formal reporting. We are on the FCA’s section 166 panel for carrying out conduct of business reviews and have tried and tested methodologies to deliver consistent, outcomes-focussed results.

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Suitability control framework

A deep dive into your oversight and monitoring arrangements; assessing how suitability fits within your three lines of defence model.

Training of IMs/QA/file checking teams

We’re happy to train all levels of staff from the Board down or help your file checking teams to focus on evidencing suitable outcomes, rather than clouding the picture by mixing up suitability with ‘process-checking’. We can offer bespoke solutions targeted at focus points of your choosing; or help to shift the culture of the front-office to a more suitability-centric approach.

If you’ve got an impending FCA visit, we can help you plan for it; carrying out mock interviews and role plays to ensure you demonstrate best practice throughout the organisation

Client on-boarding

Sitting with your client-facing staff, we can walk-through the end to end client take-on process to understand how they put your policies and procedures into practice; how they gather the right client information and get a feel for the types of conversations they’re having with prospects and clients.

Small focused file reviews

We can take a small sample of client files and review them with a particular focus such as capacity for loss, client vulnerability or portfolio content.

This isn’t an exhaustive list – whatever your suitability issue, we can help. And that includes offering one of the team to you on a secondment basis.

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