Compliance, what it is and what it should be, is something I’ve thought about for a few years, since before I started Apricity Compliance, when I felt frustrated with the way the existing ones interacted with us as a paraplanning firm. Indeed, it was the very reason for starting Apricity, as it often felt like the relationship between adviser, paraplanner and client worked wonderfully, and then compliance would pop along and start finding fault (often unnecessarily) and bringing a whole load of frustration to the advice process and offering little benefit to the client.
It got me thinking that there must be a better way than this. Surely compliance should be:
- Embraced as a function that is there to help protect client, adviser and firm
- Practical and supportive, to help firms understand the myriad of legislation and regulation they need to adhere to
- Proactive to help them feel one step ahead, not several steps behind.
Surely that’s just the bare minimum? And it became the foundation of why we built Apricity, to be a pro-active, support service, along with building technology to support that delivery of that service.
Since we launched back in January 2018, our mission has remained the same, to change the approach to compliance in financial services and make it a positive, useful service to advisers. We, somewhat optimistically, hoped that in doing so, we might even encourage other compliance firms to look at what they’re doing and perhaps improve the experience they give advisers too.
A few headlines and conversations from last year reminded me that this absolutely is not the case; that very little has changed in the overall compliance landscape:
Scaremongering – using regulation as a blunt tool to strike fear into firms and threats about the FCA cracking down on them, as a way get them to spend more on their compliance.
Distribution – reading about compliance firms and product providers striking ‘distribution deals’ just feels so ‘ick’. And so 1990s. Why are advisers still being treated as a commodity in this way? The inducement ban was created for a reason – how are we protecting the end client?
Nit-picking – actively trying to find problems and issues as a way of justifying fees, creating a negative cycle and association with compliance.
Manual – it’s 2022. Why are we going through paper files and running spreadsheets to assess CPD and keep track of a compliance calendar?
So, we know what I think compliance should be. And what I think it definitely shouldn’t be.
We know we’re doing our best to make some changes in Apricity, but we also know the impact needs to be much wider. Needs to be industry wide.
We are passionate about wanting to support advice firms, to be naturally compliant and give the best advice they possibly can. This will help inspire a more positive culture and create confidence in the financial services industry overall – which will ultimately benefit everyone.
So, for that reason, we have decided to give access to our software, for the whole of 2022, for just £1 per month.
That’s right – you can sign up to the Apricity system* (our Lite service) and pay just £1 per month for the whole of the year. In doing so, you will have access to:
- A full compliance calendar to manage your regulatory responsibilities over the year.
- A CPD tool, which can be easily imported or exported to other tools, including the CII and the CISI.
- Our full Knowledge Base, providing access to a huge range of training support and material, all of which can be automatically logged into your CPD tool.
- Access to business and advice templates, including suitability report templates and associated guidance.
- Bulletins and news, to keep you up-to-date with any regulatory changes.
Why are we doing this?
Apricity is part of The Verve Group, and the mission across the group is to empower and enable advice firms. We want to play an active part in helping the evolution of financial services and creating a profession that makes us all proud.
And we’re not afraid to put our money where our mouth is to do this.
Link to sign up: https://system.apricitycompliance.co.uk/signup/index.aspx?LITE=true
* You can sign up one user per firm for just £1 per month. Any additional users will pay the relevant fees. File checks can also be submitted via the system and would have the relevant fee payable.
Cathi Harrison, CEO, The Verve Group