This is a question we get asked a lot, especially from those on the journey to becoming directly authorised, or those who are making changes to their business. 

    It’s not just the FCA rules you need to consider here. There are additional rules depending on what type of company you're registered as, for example, sole trader or limited company.

    Over the years we've seen some common mistakes made, so we thought we’d summarise the areas to watch out for and the things to avoid.

    The correct regulatory statement

    Abbreviating the Financial Conduct Authority to the FCA may seem harmless, but this is a big no-no.

    Under GEN 4.3.1 and GEN Annex 1 statutory status disclosure, a domestic firm that is not authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority is required to disclose that the firm is ‘authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority’.

    Disclosing the firm's status

    This is most frequently an issue with appointed representative (AR) firms.

    If you are an AR, you have to make it clear that you are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, your principal is.

    Therefore, when it comes to the regulatory statement in your stationery rather than:

    "ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority"

    it should always be:

    "ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd is an Appointed Representative of XYZ Ltd. XYZ Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority."

    Trading names and styles

    Trading names/styles is another element that is often not disclosed correctly.

    If you use a trading name, you're required to display this name in all the appropriate places, for example, business cards, letterheads, website(s), and invoices.

    If you don't do this already, you will need to update your stationery accordingly.

    For example, if your firm is called ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd and you have entered a trading style on the FCA register of ABC Ltd, you would need to display this on your stationery:

    "ABC Ltd is a trading name of ABC Tax and Pensions Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority."

    Before doing so, it's worth checking Companies House to make sure your trading name isn't the same or similar to another business in any way.

    Letterheads

    There are specific rules that need to be followed, along with certain information that needs to be disclosed.

    Whether you are a private limited company (LTD), a Public Limited Company (PLC) or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) operating in the UK today, the rules around letterheads are the same. 

    On business letters, you must include the following information: 

    •     The company name
    •     The company’s registered number
    •     The registered office address (which may be different to the office that you trade from)  
    •     Where the company is registered (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
    •     The fact that it’s a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’)
    •     Contact information, including telephone number and website address

    Sometimes firms will include the name of one or maybe two directors on their letterheads. If this is something you want to do, you need to include all of the directors’ names. 

    Business cards

    Often, we see business cards packed with information when this isn't necessary. The only information that must be included on a business card is:

    •     The name of the cardholder
    •     Their job title
    •     Their contact details

    Please note that the job title given on the card must be an accurate description of the role undertaken and must not be ambiguous or misleading about the size or nature of the firm’s activities.  

    For example, if the individual is employed in a non-advising capacity, then the business card must not imply through the job title that the person is authorised to carry out activities which he or she is not.

    Acceptable terms used by non-advising staff would include job titles such as office manager, customer service support and administrator.

    It's not acceptable to refer to non-advising staff as consultants or, clearly, advisers.

    While it isn't necessary to include the regulatory disclosure (authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) on a business card, we would recommend this. Along with the firms, FCA number as this will allow the client to find you easier on the register, should they decide to take a look.

    Other things to note are: 

    •     The term Principal should only be used in reference to a sole trader or partner.   
    •     Partner may only be used where the individual is in a firm that is a partnership and they hold the status of partner.   
    •     Director may only be used if the firm is a limited company and the individual holds director status; however, the statement ‘Director of X’ may be used where this is a valid description of the individual’s activities.   

    Email footer 

    While this isn’t necessarily stationery in the physical sense, it’s still something we receive questions on. 

    The requirements for business emails whether you are a private limited company (LTD), Public Limited  Company (PLC) or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) operating in the UK today, the rules around business emails are the same as letterheads.

    Therefore, your email footer must include:   

    •     The company name
    •     The company’s registered number
    •     The registered office address (which may be different to the office that you trade from)  
    •     Where the company is registered (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)
    •     The fact that it’s a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’)
    •     Contact information, including telephone number and website address

     
    Something that is not required but we strongly advise is to include a disclosure. We have included an example of one below:   
     
    Information: This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify our [insert job title]. Do not retain, copy or disclose it without our consent. We virus scan and monitor all e-mails but are not responsible for any damage caused by a virus or alteration by a third party after it is sent. [insert company name] is the trading name of [insert company name] Registered in England & Wales. Company registration number [insert number]. 

    Start the discussion

    Add a comment