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FSA says TCF applies to all firms

Many small brokerages and sole traders fail to realise how Treating Customers Fairly applies to them, despite efforts by the Financial Standards Authority to highlight the issue.

In a speech at the ‘Treating Customers Fairly: progress and future plans’ conference on October 4, Clive Briault, managing director of retail markets at the FSA, told delegates: “Treating customers fairly does apply to all regulated firms.”

Linda Will, managing director of Accord Mortgages, says feedback from focus groups shows many brokers mistakenly believe TFC is just a lender issue and are unable to articulate how it applies to them.

She adds: “Brokers must understand how to demonstrate they are treating customers fairly.”

Will says because TFC is a principle-based approach, it is open to interpretation. But Briault says this approach gives firms the opportunity to determine how to meet TCF obligations.

Sole trader Roy New says attending training sessions and seminars has helped him understand how to prove he is treating his customers fairly, although this has meant more work for him.

New says: “Hopefully most intermediaries already treat their customers fairly.

“It’s just a case of making sure you cover your back by proving you’re compliant.”

Ray Boulger, senior technical manager at John Charcol, believes this will be a challenge for small brokerages and sole traders with limited resources. But he adds it’s not just smaller firms that don’t fully understand the FSA’s intentions for TCF.

Boulger says: “Some firms haven’t recognised that TFC starts with the chief executive, not the compliance department.”

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