How to write Compliance-ready content first time

Sep 5th '16

This stressful scenario is only-too familiar…


  • You desperately need to get out that last-minute financial promotion
  • You’re up against the clock – but you’ve drafted some content that’s been signed off by the business
  • You’re nearly there…and then Compliance steps in
  • And their amendments mean it’s back to the drawing board, changing your copy to meet their requirements…
  • …And going round the loop on business sign off again
  • (And you can bet that the business preferred your pacier – albeit non-FCA-compliant – wording and aren’t happy with the alternative)


Stressful, isn’t it?


What if we said we had some tips to help you write Compliance-ready content? Advice that meant ‘right first time’ copy that gets sign-off quickly – enabling you to meet your deadlines?


Would that help? Well, read on…


What is your Compliance team looking for?

Understanding what will – and won’t – get past the FCA is essential; it has some stringent requirements. Fail to meet these, and your copy will fall at the first hurdle.


So, what do you need to do?


  • Write content that’s fair, clear and not misleading

This is one of the regulator’s main aims. Check your content before you hand it over – does it meet these requirements? If not, tone it down, tidy it up or reduce the jargon.


  • Make your content appropriate for your audience

If you’re writing for a retail audience – the general public – your tone and the words you use will need to be different than if you were writing for intermediaries or other finance professionals.


  • Check disclaimers and disclosures

Getting the right disclaimer, disclosure or regulated statement can be a challenge.


  • Risk warnings are a must too

Risk warnings, like disclaimers, are needed if you talk about past investment performance. If you have a slide or document library, it’s possible to ‘lock’ relevant risk warnings to the products they cover, to ensure you always use the right one.


  • Steer clear of offering advice

Your promotions need to inform, not advise. Make sure you understand the difference, and that you are not inadvertently offering advice, which will automatically be rejected.


  • Some products have specific requirements

Some particularly complex products have their own sets of rules. Understand what these are and how they impact your marketing copy before you start writing.


  • Keep up with the latest regulations

Most of the FCA’s regulations are pretty standard, but the regulator does update guidance occasionally to keep up with changing practices. Its rules on social media, for example (while still a bit woolly!) were amended last year. Keep up-to-date with the latest guidelines to make sure you’re not caught out.


  • Make sure external agencies know what’s needed

If you outsource any of your copywriting to external web, advertising or other creative agencies, they also need to know what’s allowable.


  • Collaboration delivers continuous improvement

Although your two teams may sometimes seem like chalk and cheese, in fact you share the same goal. Promoting your firm in a compliant way – preferably with minimum amendments, interventions and reworking along the way, making for a smoother, faster approvals process. Close collaboration is the key to success.


Writing compliant copy is easier than you think. Follow our tips and you will reduce the amount of changes you need to make, speeding your financial promotions to market and reducing costs.

If you are unsure how the rules fit within your marketing, we provide an Advertising Review Service.


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