Brexit: UK companies must check their regulatory compliance
Despite the UK’s exit transition period expiring at the beginning of the year, the company points out that prior legislation remains ‘on the books’. It is therefore striving to raise awareness for the necessity of continued compliance.
SmartSearch was founded in 2005 in West Yorkshire. Recognised as a ‘’ firm, the company offers AML solutions, KYC (know your customers), fraud prevention and more across a variety of sectors and business types.
In parallel with the UK Government’s own advice, SmartSearch encourages the switch from paper-based manual checks to electronic verification in order to maintain ‘up-to-the-minute’ compliance with new legislative changes.
John Dobson, CEO, states that maintaining smooth operations during this period of economic turbulence will be imperative, particularly for highly concentrated areas of financial services activity:
“We’ve now had six EU Money Laundering Directives with the last one just published a few weeks ago. As a major global financial centre, the City of London will be compliant with these regulations, as they still want to do business with the EU, which means all regulated businesses need to be compliant.
“We may have left the EU on Dec 31, but have you checked the small print? Businesses still need to be up to date with that legislation or risk fines and enforcement action from the FCA. For any business, the best way to be compliant is by switching to electronic verification for onboarding new customers and we would urge all businesses to make that switch this year.”
With Brexit theoretically designed to allow the UK to diverge from EU policies and processes if it chooses, it remains unclear how the regulatory landscape will continue to change. For now, at least, businesses must ensure their operations are modernised to keep pace with a rapidly changing environment.
FCA bans ‘price walking’ for insurers from Jan 2022
Insurers will no longer be allowed to raise premiums upon annual customer renewals following a new ruling by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The new move, which comes into effect in January 2022, will directly affect people renewing their home or motor insurance because they will pay no more for their premiums than a new customer.
The FCA said the change will save loyal customers an estimated £4.2bn over a 10-year-period. However, it also admitted the move could mean cheaper deals for new customers can no longer be sustainable for insurers attempting to attract business.
Price walking practices ended
According to reports, the FCA has been working on changing the rules on ‘price walking’ as it is termed, because customers are charged more their annual premiums, even though their level of risk remains the same. The system has resulted in complaints from consumer groups that loyal customers pay more unnecessarily.
"These measures will put an end to the very high prices paid by many loyal customers. Consumers can still benefit from shopping around or negotiating with their current provider, but won't be charged more at renewal just for being an existing customer."
Victory for the customer
Consumer groups have hailed the change as a victory for customers who have ended up paying higher premiums unnecessarily, but admitted it presented huge implications for insurers in the short term.
Consumer Intelligence CEO, Ian Hughes said, “These changes represent a tsunami for both insurers and their customers, but we should be in no doubt that the fault line that sits underneath this is fair value, mentioned 153 times in the final statement. GIPP changes will feel like just a ripple for those who don’t offer fair value to customers."
He continued, “This is going to be a bumpy ride for insurance brands and consumers alike in the short term. Today, the FCA has revealed that cash and cash-equivalent incentives, other than toys and carbon off setting, cannot be used to entice new customers without being offered to renewing customers. This means the savviest consumers who shop around each year will see prices rise and discounts and offers disappear.
“However, there is an opportunity for the industry to take advantage of all this change that is coming and do something that will be good for brands, good for the industry and good for consumers."
Consumer Intelligence PR and communications manager, Catherine Carey agreed, and described the victory as “a shot in the arm for innovation.”
Carey said the move “presses a giant reset button on the relationship between price and value, it will change the relationship between brands and consumers.”
She explained, “We expect to see insurers changing their models and new firms entering the market for the first time as loss-making year one pricing phases out. If you look at these new rules, and specifically the introduction of fair value, it’s the most exciting time for the development of the general insurance market for decades.”
Hughes also warned against insurers resisting the regulatory change, “Those that don’t take advantage of the opportunity are going to find it really tough.”
He added, “The tipping point we find ourselves at today is a critical point in the journey of this industry and there is an opportunity to be positive.”