Background on Gifts & Bribery
This overview outlines what is expected of Finance Planning’s Representatives when offering, giving and accepting gifts, hospitality and inducements to/from external third parties.
Finance Planning recognises that a conflict of interest may arise where a payment or non-monetary benefit is offered or accepted by, or on behalf of, a Finance Planning Representative. Further, it is Finance Planning’s will to fully comply with the Bribery Act 2010 and create a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and bribery.
This policy places a number of responsibilities on our Advisers, Employed staff and AR Firms alike, and references to “AR Firms” also includes it’s Principals too.
In this document we will look to:
- encourage adherence to Finance Planning’s open and honest business practices
- meet FCA requirements and guidance
- meet the requirements of the Bribery Act 2010
- ensure all customers are treated fairly
- avoid conflicts of interest in Finance Planning’s business activities
- provide Advisers with a clear understanding of what is expected of them
- give Advisers some protection against any claims of impropriety or bribery
- set out the responsibilities of Advisers and AR Firms
Third party means any individual or organisation that an Adviser may come into contact with during the course of their work, and includes product providers, asset managers, suppliers, business contacts and government and public bodies, including their advisors, representatives and officials.
The following FCA principles are relevant and underpin this Policy:
Principle 1: A firm must conduct its business with integrity
Principle 2: A firm must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence
Principle 6: A firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers
Principle 8: A firm must manage conflicts of interest fairly, both between itself and its customers and between a customer and another client
Next, we will establish acceptable standards which are to be adhered to by everyone, at all levels, at all times.
A gift is an item for which financial payment is not required and is usually given by business contacts or customers as a token of appreciation or as a means of expressing normal business courtesies.
Offering & Giving Gifts
Any gifts offered or given to third parties need to be offered openly, in good faith, and without condition. No offer must be made if it is reasonable to expect such offer to conflict with a duty to a customer or to Finance Planning. It is not acceptable for lavish or extravagant gifts to be offered.
Acceptance of an item of small value, up to around £25 market value on a one-off or ad hoc basis is acceptable. Examples of acceptable gifts are diaries, chocolates, a bottle of wine, flowers or umbrellas. However, you should not accept such gifts from the same source on a frequent basis.
You may accept any gift offered to you that is over a market value of around £25 only where you have prior approval (to be sought from email@example.com) to do so. Where approval is not granted, and in order to avoid unnecessary offence, the recipient should thank the person making the offer but advise that it is against the Firm’s policy to accept such gifts.
Any gifts (other than of nominal value i.e. less than £10) accepted or declined should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org and these then need to be recorded in the Gifts & Hospitality Register.
If the gift is offered in good faith, and even after declining the offer, the person making the offer still wishes to give the gift, you may accept the gift. Advice again needs to be sought from email@example.com as to whether you can keep the gift or whether it is more appropriate to donate the gift to charity.
No gift can be accepted where conditions, whether express or implied, are attached or where you think acceptance may conflict with a duty to customers or to Finance Planning. If this happens, you should report the matter to firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Hospitality is an event or activity, whether hosted and paid for by Finance Planning or by an external individual or company, and includes such items as sporting events, evening dinners or activity based days. Training events put on with the sole aim of enhancing knowledge or skills (CPD events) are not considered to be hospitality, although pre or post training events could be.
With the exception of normal business working breakfasts or lunches, all items of hospitality, whether offered or accepted, needs to be recorded by Pete Burgess on the Gifts & Hospitality Register and, if in doubt, it is always best to register an event to ensure complete transparency.
Offering & Giving Hospitality
Hospitality may be offered to third parties to further business relationships and engage in the normal business practice of networking and business development. Any hospitality needs to have a business objective attached to it.
Any hospitality needs to be offered openly, in good faith and without condition. You must not offer hospitality if you think it may conflict with a duty to customers or to Finance Planning. All hospitality offered (other than normal business breakfasts or lunches) needs to be recorded by Pete Burgess on the Gifts & Hospitality Register. You need to report to email@example.com any hospitality you have provided to a third party at a cost greater than £50 per head.
Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, offers of hospitality may be accepted: Hospitality to be accepted needs to have a demonstrable business purpose (such as networking with other Advisers unconnected with your Firm) or a client benefit (such as gaining insight into business development opportunities or best practice advice processes).
Hospitality which is exclusively between Advisers from the same Firm and one product provider, other than normal business working breakfasts or lunches, is not acceptable.
Other than for working breakfasts or lunches, all direct offers of hospitality specific to an individual need to be recorded by firstname.lastname@example.org on the Gifts & Hospitality Register, whether accepted or declined. General invites through “round robin” emails or generic advertisements need not be registered.
In the event that neither the third party providing the hospitality, nor any representative of them is attending the event, this should be classed as a gift and registered accordingly.
No hospitality can be accepted where conditions, whether express or implied, are attached. If this happens, you should report the matter to email@example.com immediately. You must not accept hospitality if you think it may conflict with a duty to clients or to Finance Planning. For example, if you receive an invitation from a Provider in recognition of previous business placed with that Provider as a “thank you”, you need to carefully assess if this could be perceived by a client as an inducement to place future business with that Provider.
As a general guide, acceptance of more than two offers of hospitality in any 12-month period from the same third party should be on an exceptional basis only.
Record Keeping and Registering Gifts & Hospitality
For ease of reference, the following always need to be recorded in the Gifts & Hospitality Register:
- All individual gifts which are offered to and/or accepted, unless they are of nominal value i.e. less than £10;
- All hospitality invitations received, whether or not accepted
If in any doubt advice should be sought from Pete Burgess.
Unacceptable Business Practices
Practices that are never acceptable are those related to inducements, money and the soliciting of gifts, hospitality or inducements, as described under the next three headings below:
It is never acceptable to offer, give or accept any service, benefit, gift or offer of hospitality to or from any third party as an inducement to influence a person’s business judgement in the giver’s favour or where the offer of that inducement may cause a conflict with the duty the Adviser. In certain circumstances, these could be viewed as “bribes”, which need to be reported to Pete Burgess.
An example of an inappropriate inducement might include a product provider offering gifts or extensive hospitality in exchange for supporting their products.
If you are in any doubt as to whether the offering or acceptance of business courtesies could be construed as an inducement, you need to discuss the matter with Pete Burgess before taking any action.
Money must never be accepted or offered (in all its forms e.g. cash, cheques or vouchers) as a gift. If such an offer is made, or if the offer of money could be construed as an attempt to “bribe”, the matter needs to be reported to Pete Burgess. This policy on offering of money excludes any goodwill payments offered to a client in the ordinary course of complaint handling or remediation.
Soliciting Gifts, Hospitality & Inducements
Soliciting in this context is to request or attempt to prompt a company or person to offer a gift, hospitality or other inappropriate inducement. Such requests whether direct or indirect may imply that the person or company could benefit from such actions. Under this policy, in no circumstances is it ever acceptable for you to solicit gifts, hospitality or inducements.
Any queries in relation to Inducements, Gifts & Hospitality should be directed to Pete Burgess
Telephone: 01444 449200