Something that we always seem to get questions on is stationery and what makes them compliant. The complexity comes as it’s not just FCA rules, but there are also rules dependant on what type of company you are registered as, e.g. sole trader or limited company.

Over the years at The Verve Group, we have seen some common mistakes made, so thought we’d neatly summarise them into things to avoid!

1.   Not including all of the required information in a letterhead

For letterheads, there are specific rules that need to be followed and certain information to make sure you include. If your business is a limited company, the following needs to be included in your letterheads:

  • The company name
  • The company’s registered number
  • The registered office address
  • Where the company is registered (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
  • The fact that it’s a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’)
  • Your contact information (e.g telephone number, website, etc.)

Sometimes firms will include the name of one or maybe two of their directors in their letterheads. If you want to include directors’ names, you must list all of them.

2.   Not making the correct regulatory statement

Considering abbreviating the Financial Conduct Authority to FCA? This is a big no, no! Under GEN 4.3.1 and GEN Annex 1 Statutory status disclosure, a domestic firm that is not PRA-authorised is required to disclose that the firm is ‘authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority’. The abbreviated version ‘FCA’ must not be used.

3.   Including too much on a business card

Often, we see business cards packed with information when this is not necessary. All you must include in your business card is:

  • The name of the cardholder
  • Their job title
  • Their contact details

The job description given must be an accurate description of the role undertaken. If the individual is employed in a non-advising capacity, then the business card must not imply through the job title that the individual is authorised to carry out activities which he/she is not. For example:

Acceptable terms used by non-advising staff include Office Manager, Customer Service Adviser, and Administrator.

Unacceptable terms for non-advising staff include Consultant and Adviser.

It is not necessary to include the regulatory disclosure (authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority), on a business card, however, we would recommend this.

4.   Not disclosing the firms status correctly

This is most frequently an issue with AR firms. If you are an Appointed Representative, you have to make it clear that you are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, your principle is. Therefore, when it comes to the regulatory statement in your stationery, rather than:

ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

It should always be

ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd is an Appointed Representative of XYZ Ltd. XYZ Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

5.   Not disclosing trading styles/names correctly

Trading names/styles are another element that are often not disclosed correctly. If you use a trading name, you are required to display this name on all appropriate places, for example, business cards, letterheads, website(s), invoices. Therefore, this will require you to amend most, if not all, of your existing stationery if you don’t do this already. For example, if your firm is called ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd and you just want to used ABC Ltd then you would need to display on your stationery that ‘ABC Ltd is a trading name of ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.’

Before doing so, you should check Companies House to ensure that your trading name is not the same or similar to another business in any way.