+ some example technical FAQs that only our clients have access to
If you can’t find an answer here feel free to
- Advisory Investment firms
- Discretionary management firms
- General insurance brokers
- Home finance brokers
- Credit brokers
- Debt management companies
- Professional firms (accountants, solicitors, chartered surveyors)
We have a range of service options but all can be tailored to meet your specific requirements.
You won’t commit to any contract until you get the full opportunity to evaluate the quality of our work and to get to know us. It’s important that we can work together.
Our typical approach is to undertake an audit of current standards and provide you with a detailed report and action plan. You can then decide whether or not to commit to a longer term relationship with us.
If you sign up to a regular support package then there is a minimum contract term. This is because we undertake a significant amount of work to set up the service and to supply intellectual property. However, you will get plenty of opportunity to assess whether ATEB is the right fit before committing.
Our knowledge and experience
ATEB was one of the very earliest compliance consultancies to be established in 1996. Our consultants all have between 15 and 40+ years’ relevant experience.
ATEB Suitability Report Software
ATEB suitability templates have undergone the scrutiny of numerous FCA inspection visits. Whilst ultimate responsibility for compliance rests with the advisory firm, we know that these templates meet the core suitability requirements. They have been designed by compliance specialists and are based on years of regulator feedback.
- Investment Bonds
- Offshore Bonds
- Investment Individual Savings Accounts (including Junior ISAs & Lifetime ISAs)
- Unit Trust/OEICs
- Investment Trusts
- Discounted Gift Trust Plan
- Loan Trust Plan
- Discretionary Managed Portfolios
- Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS)
- Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (SEIS)
- Venture Capital Trusts (VCT)
- Personal Pensions
- Stakeholder Pensions
- Self Investment Personal Pensions
- Retirement Annuities (Conventional / Flexible / Short Term / Fixed Term / Investment)
- Long Term Care Annuities
- Flexi-Access Drawdown
- Defined Benefit Transfers
- Income Protection (PHI)
- Term Assurance*
- Whole of Life
- Standalone Critical Illness (Term)*
- Standalone Critical Illness (WOL)
- Private Medical Insurance
- Relevant Life
- Key Person Insurance
- Mortgages (New Purchase / Rate Switch / Remortgage / Help to Buy)
- Buy to Let Mortgages
- Lifetime Mortgages
- Home Reversion
- Second Charge Mortgages
- Non-Product led IHT Advice
* Includes: Level Term Assurance; Decreasing Term Assurance; Reviewable Term Assurance; Renewable Term Assurance; Family Income Benefit, Gift Inter-Vivos.
Yes, the style has been viewed by the FCA on numerous occasions and they have never been critical of any aspects. They state quite clearly on their website that better suitability reports should explain “simply and clearly why the recommended transaction or product is suitable for the client”. We are confident that our output clearly ticks the regulatory boxes.
Sample Technical Questions
I’m afraid you have to be a fully paid-up ATEB client
There are several rules and guidance that inform the requirements on periodic assessment of suitability. Details can be in:
COBS 9A.2.10 EU
The requirements contained in these rules can be summarised as follows.
- Where a firm takes an ongoing adviser charge, the firm has an ongoing relationship with the client;
- Where a firm has an ongoing relationship with a client, it must undertake a periodic assessment of suitability;
- Where a periodic assessment of suitability is to be provided, it must be done at least annually and be based on up to date KYC information that is required to assess suitability.
All consumers taking advice on the possible transfer of safeguarded benefits must receive a TVC and an APTA should be prepared by the firm to inform the recommendation. This is because the TVC enables consumers to understand the value of the benefits they are considering giving up. A feature of the previous TVAS methodology was that it produced very high critical yields close to or at the point of retirement which might have been misunderstood. However, as the TVC is shown in £ terms, it provides an indication of the value of safeguarded benefits by showing the consumer how much they would cost to purchase on the open market, irrespective of their age relative to the scheme’s normal retirement age. Along with the wider analysis of the merits of a transfer (the APTA), an adviser can use the TVC to help put the client in an informed position.
It is also worth noting that, prior to pension freedoms, there were very few requests from members to transfer within 12 months of normal retirement age (NRA). Members do not have a statutory right to transfer within 12 months of retirement and many schemes did not offer this option. Post pension freedoms, more schemes now offer a transfer within 12 months of NRA and it’s important that all consumers are provided with some context for the level of their transfer value to help them make an informed decision.
The legal position has been definitively stated by the Law Commission in their 2019 report on the subject. That report can be read here – https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/electronic-execution-of-documents/
Its findings can be summarised as follows:
Statement of the law: execution with an electronic signature
- An electronic signature is capable in law of being used to execute a document (including a deed) provided that (i) the person signing the document intends to authenticate the document and (ii) any formalities relating to execution of that document are satisfied.
- Such formalities may be required under a statute or statutory instrument, or may be laid down in a contract or other private law instrument under which a document is to be executed. The following are examples of formalities that might be required: (i) that the signature be witnessed; or (ii) that the signature be in a specified form (such as being handwritten).
- An electronic signature is admissible in evidence in legal proceedings.
- Common law adopts a pragmatic approach and does not prescribe any particular form or type of signature. The Courts have held that the following non-electronic forms amount to valid signatures:
- signing with an ‘X;
- signing with initials only;
- using a stamp of a handwritten signature;
- printing of a name;
- signing with a mark, even where the party executing the mark can write; and
- a description of the signatory if sufficiently unambiguous, such as “Your loving mother” or “Servant to Mr Sperling”.
Electronic equivalents of these non-electronic forms of signature are likely to be recognised by a court as legally valid. In practice, the following electronic forms amount to valid signatures in the case of statutory obligations to provide a signature where the statute is silent as to whether an electronic signature is acceptable:
- a name typed at the bottom of an email;
- clicking an “I accept” tick box on a website; and
- the header of a SWIFT message.
- With specific regard to deeds and the witnessing requirements thereof, a deed must be signed in the physical presence of a witness who attests the signature. This is the case even where both the person executing the deed and the witness are executing / attesting the document using an electronic signature.
So, for example, an electronic signature is legally acceptable for the purposes of a client signing a client service / fee agreement as this would be considered a simple contract. Firms requiring client authority for an advisory rebalance could accept the client’s email response as being sufficient (provided the client isn’t refusing the rebalance of course!).
This is of most relevance to general insurance brokers.
The Insurance Distribution Directive introduced Article 33B of the Regulated Activities Order to the insurance market which excludes these specific introducers from needing to be on the register.
What this means is that if an introducer provides information about a potential policyholder to an intermediary or provides information to a potential policyholder about the insurance or insurer then the exclusion can be used.
However you need to be certain that all is being done is the provision of information and not any other potential step that could be regulated such as assisting in the conclusion of a contract of insurance i.e. selling or helping to complete a proposal form.
Before we answer – please note that you will need to discuss your requirements with a consultant because some exclusions do apply for certain activities, professions or business types.
Below is a brief high level summary:
If you deal with a consumer which is defined, in this case, as:
- An individual;
- A sole trader;
- A partnership with fewer than 4 partners; or
- An unincorporated association.
- Lend money (other than that secured on land);
- Introduce a consumer to a lender (directly or indirectly);
- Help a consumer with debt problems or advise about specific debt;
- Hire or lease goods for more than 3 months;
- Issue credit cards;
- Collect or purchase debts;
- Are a peer to peer lender;
- Credit referencing (advice).
Then you are very likely to need to need authorisation, and, depending on your activities you will need to determine if you need full or limited permissions.
This is the annual income or ‘gross inflow of economic benefit recognised by the firms accounts’ for the regulated activity i.e. home finance intermediation, general insurance distribution or life distribution and investment intermediation. We also include the relevant income from Appointed Representatives.
The FCA help text states that the income is ‘business conducted with private individuals (consumers) which is subject to the jurisdiction of FOS…’
These private individuals include the following:
A consumer; or
A SME, defined as an enterprise which:
- Has an annual turnover below £6.5m; plus either of
- Employs fewer than 50 persons; and
- Has an annual balance sheet that does not exceed £5m.
A Charity which has an annual income of less than £6.5m;
A trustee of a trust which has a net asset value of less than £5m.
Note FSCS eligibility definitions are different.