The RDR (Retail Distribution Review) process started by our regulator, the FSCA, has resulted in the amendment of certain pieces of legislation. Good times. Coupled with that and the Twin Peaks changes there are still more changes to come. One of the positively thorny changes that directly affects the industry in a big way is the manner in which brokers/advisers are compensated. In this post we will briefly look at the current state of play with regards to asking a client for addition fees above and beyond agreed/regulated commissions. We will look at Short-Term Insurance, Long-Term Insurance, Other Financial Products and Leads/Referrals.
Short-Term Insurance (STI)
So it is probably no secret to most of the Short-Term Insurance Brokers among you that broker fees structures that Insurers can collect on your behalf have changed and was implemented via the new PPR (Policy Holder Protection Rules) under rule 12.4 and 12.4.1 issued by the FSCA Insurance Department.
By 15 December 2018 Insurers will have to comply with this rule and it will also unavoidably have an affect on the the short-term insurance broker as well to does fee addition costs to the client.
The requirement states:
"An insurer may not facilitate the deduction or charging of any fee payable by a policyholder to an intermediary or any other person, unless the insurer has satisfied itself that the amount and purpose of the fee have been explicitly agreed to by the policyholder in writing, and that it appears from such agreement that the fee –
Most Insurers have issued notices to linked brokers to obtain such approvals from clients before 15 December. In future it is also a good idea to have this kind of document signed when signing up a new client or incorporating it into your service agreement with your client or other document (such as the ROA, NDA etc). As long as the client agrees to it.
Long-Term Insurance (LTI)
Long-term Insurance brokers/intermediaries never had the dispensation that short-term insurance brokers had to even collect extra fees. Now the position looks exactly the same in the Long-Term Insurance Act and the wording of the PPR rule concerning additional fees is exactly the same as the rule in the Short-Term Insurance Act above, even to the number or the rule. So it can be argued that brokers can now collect extra fees if the clients do agreed to it.
So here, also, if you want to collect extra fees you need to obtain client consent in the same way and it must comply in the same way by the same date.
My opinion on others outside the space of LTI and STI that are FAIS approved and do ask extra professional fees to do as follows. Outside of LTI and STI fees are not currently regulated but the regulator is looking at it for the future.
Disclose it to the client and have them agree to it in writing if you are asking extra fees. Enumerate what it is for and makes sure the client understands what she is paying for. A good rule of thumb is not to make the client pay double for something. So when fees are required make sure you have not already been paid for those services. This will ensure you do not fall foul of TCF requirements (Treating Clients Fairly).
Referral Fees and Leads
This is not currently regulated but it is on the table for phase 2 of RDR which is still under review and research. A suggestion is to keep a close eye on this space. At minimum, make sure there is an agreement in place if you are getting paid for or receiving referrals and make sure this is disclosed to the client by the broker/adviser.
Until next time, may your business be fruitful and your compliance fit for purpose!
by: Horizon Compliance team