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Is your financial advisor compliant? Questions to ask

An avalanche of regulations governing the wealth management arena in South Africa means that wealth managers have had to adapt their business models to remain compliant.

With all the new rules and regulations in place, it is important to ask your financial advisor certain questions to ensure they are compliant. Nicola Langridge CFP®, a Certified Financial Planner from Private Client Holdings, offers some advice on what you should be checking with your financial advisor:

1) “It is important to make sure that your financial advisor is a registered representative under the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and that the company he/she is representing is a registered FSP provider. Financial Service Providers must be registered with FSCA.

2) “Ask your advisor for a letter of compliance introduction/explanation that contains the details of their FSCA and FSP memberships, as well as the service providers that he/she makes use of, with all of their contact details. The document should also list what categories the company, and the individual, is registered to give advice on,” advises Langridge.

3) “It is also very important to enquire about your financial advisors TCF (Treating Customers Fairly) policies. They should have a clear policy as to how they meet TCF requirements and should follow the guidance provided by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA)

Langridge explains that Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) is designed to ensure that specific, clear and fair outcomes for financial services consumers are delivered by regulated financial firms. “The main aim of TCF is to ensure that fair treatment of customers is embedded within the culture of wealth management firms.”

4) “Although POPI is not yet in full force, it is a good idea for clients to ask their financial advisor how their company is taking steps to comply with the new regulations once promulgated, and ask how their personal information will be treated.”

“The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) has a great deal of importance for the financial and wealth management industry,” explains Langridge. “Financial advisors process a great deal of personal information – such as the financial history and affairs of their clients, personal information regarding their beneficiaries and information regarding their medical health.”

Whilst securing the integrity and confidentiality of clients’ information has always been ‘best industry practise’, POPI has now made this a legal obligation and financial advisors need to safeguard their clients’ privacy.

“As a client, you should be confident that your selected financial advisor and their firm has a compliance program which not only protects you, your family and your assets but also your information and privacy,” says Langridge. “Ask the right questions to ensure that you are working with the right wealth manager.”

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