What are Insistent Customers?
An insistent client is a client to whom a firm has given a personal recommendation and who wishes to transact business against his adviser’s advice. Until recently, there had been no Handbook definition of an insistent client. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) defines an insistent client as someone to whom a firm has given a personal recommendation; that the same client then decides to enter into a transaction which is different from that recommended by the firm in the personal recommendation; and that the client wishes the firm to facilitate that transaction.
Insistent clients may be relatively rare but they present a regulatory risk to firms and it is vital that firms do enough to protect themselves. While there is no rule to prevent advisers transacting business against their advice, if the client insists they need proceed with care and follows all appropriate steps to minimise any future risks that the client later complains they were not warned of the risks involved in taking the action they insisted the adviser take on their behalf.
Many firms may decide to never transact on behalf of an insistent client as this conflicts with the general duty of the adviser to act in the client’s best interests and may also give rise to problems with Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) and possible future Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) claims. Guidance from the Personal Finance Society (PFS) suggests firms should not transact any activity that goes against their professional recommendation of suitability. This is because advisers who facilitate insistent client transactions expose their client, themselves and the sector to a high risk of vulnerability to future complaints and therefore claims for compensation.
The problem of the ‘insistent client’ is not new. Although generally a person who comes to a financial adviser will be receptive to advice, most advisers will have experienced occasions when a client wishes to take a different course of action from the one recommended.
In recent years, this issue has been exacerbated by pension freedoms. Whilst the new rules allow people to have immediate access to their savings, legislation has been put in place to mitigate the likelihood of them making transfers against their best interests. Therefore for pension pots in excess of £30,000, they must demonstrate that they have taken regulated financial advice.
This has created a very difficult situation for financial advisers, who are finding that prospective clients are coming to them not to seek advice but to tell the adviser what they have decided to do. Such clients will have made up their minds before the advice process has even started.
In light of these issues, advisers need clarity and guidance in this area, not just to protect consumers but also to avoid allegations of negligence and FOS claims. Following concerns expressed by firms, the FCA has now provided Handbook guidance on insistent clients with the aim of providing a more stable framework for advisers and giving them increased regulatory certainty.
PIMFA have developed a guide setting out the practical steps firms may take in order to tackle the issues raised by insistent clients and to meet the FCA’s expectations.
Insistent Clients – a good practice guide
This guide sets out to explain what an insistent client is, what policy you should have in place and the process to deal with them.
Head of Regulatory Policy and Compliance
Click to expand.