Regulation  

FCA meets providers on inducements

It is understood the FCA has been meeting financial services firms following the publication of its guidance in January 2014 which raised concern that some providers were still “making payments” to advisers that could encourage biased product recommendations.

A spokesman for the regulator said: “The guidance we issued aimed at helping firms better understand our expectations. We have been liaising closely with the industry since and now it is for firms to make sure any payments, hospitality or gifts are legitimate, proportionate, in consumers’ interest and that potential conflicts are well managed.”

In the past Santander UK has entertained advisers as guests at the British Grand Prix. A statement from the lender said this year it had allocated a number of tickets to the UK division for “staff recognition, prize draws for customers and other worthy causes”.

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A spokesman from Aviva said the insurer planned to continue its sponsorship of Premiership rugby until 2017 and of Norwich City football club until June 2016, but confirmed it has maintained its decision not to host hospitality events for distributors.

Friends Life abandoned its sponsorship of T20 cricket in 2012, though the insurer said this was “not related in any way to FCA work on inducements”. The provider recently sponsored the British cycling Women’s Tour but confirmed it had “not made any decisions on future sponsorship activity”.

Aegon defended its sponsorship of the tennis championships at The Queen’s Club. The insurer said the tournament fell within the company’s broader relationship as lead partner of British tennis until 2017. The firm confirmed its allocation of tickets were shared between “advisers, customers and other stakeholders”.

A spokesman for Aegon added: “It is too early to comment on our intention beyond 2017.”

Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays both confirmed plans to continue their sponsorships of sporting events, citing marketing benefits as their primary justifications.

Adviser view

Dale Jannels, managing director of West Sussex-based All Types of Mortgages, said: “Corporate hospitality comes down to recognition for the volume of business provided in arrears. It is not encouraging bias but rewarding past performance. Those are the things that are being missed in the marketplace.”