Friday, 5 August 2016

Financial Promotions: Brand New Course

Everyone in the UK is subject to the financial promotions regime – whether they are a financial services company or not.  A financial promotion is defined as an ‘Invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity’ – which generally includes all methods of encouraging investment in the course of business which have a promotional element and intent.

Although we might think of a promotion as being a written communication, it’s actually far broader than that, particularly with the significant increase in the use of social media.  In fact, promotions can include face to face discussion, phone calls, emails, advertisements, websites, presentations, Tweets and Facebook posts – so you may be breaching regulation without even being aware.

Recent mis-selling scandals (such as PPI) have increased public awareness of potentially misleading sales tactics, lending and advice. 

Image showing PPI misselling screen

This course is aimed at anyone working in financial services who needs an overview of the financial promotions regime and how to be compliant.  By the end of the course, learners will:
  • Understand what financial promotions are
  • Be able to explain what constitutes a client communication
  • Know the rules and regulations associated with financial promotions

The course is presented as a pathway with the following activities:
  • A short “teaser” video to raise awareness
  • eLearning modules explaining what constitutes a financial promotion, how they are regulated and some practical case studies
  • A quick summary module for refresher training
  • A post-course assessment

The course will also provide learners with up to 60 minutes of CPD.


The ComplianceServe team

Monday, 18 July 2016

Diagnostic Assessments & Graphical Reporting

Unicorn is pleased to announce the release of Diagnostic Assessments and Graphical Reporting within ComplianceServe. This new feature enables administrators to quickly highlight learners’ knowledge gaps and deliver tailored learning pathways to address those gaps – saving valuable time and maximising learner engagement. 

Diagnostics can be created for single courses or groups of courses using the “Add to Basket” feature in Find Learning, making this feature particularly useful for annual refresher training. 

All the questions in the ComplianceServe question bank have been mapped to related learning and based on their diagnostic result, each learner can be fully or partially exempted from the related learning.

As an administrator you control the number of questions and the pass mark, and you can organise your diagnostics and associated content into pathways then assign them to your learners, individually or through the use of registration rules, in the usual way.

We’ve also added a Diagnostic Dashboard – a new graphical report which shows performance and status details for pathways containing diagnostic and/or pathway assessments. Using Red, Amber, Green colour coding, the performance graph shows the number of learning activities where learners scored < 40%, between 40% and 70% and more than 70%.  The status graph shows the number of activities which have been assessed, versus the number pending.

For details on how to take advantage of this new feature, check out this article in the SkillsServe Knowledge Base, or contact the Unicorn Help Desk for further assistance.


The ComplianceServe Team

Monday, 4 July 2016

ComplianceServe Updates for Q2: What's New?

As part of the commitment to ensure our learning content is always up to date, the following courses have been reviewed and updated and new versions have been published to the ComplianceServe library.

Some of these updates are in response to regulatory changes, in which case we strongly recommend that the relevant titles are assigned to learners immediately, to ensure they understand their obligations and responsibilities under the new rules.

Where there has been no change in the relevant legislation, the updates focus on general enhancements to the learning experience and/or the use of new case studies and examples. We recommend that you familiarise yourselves with the updated courses and where they have already been assigned to learners, consider whether target completion dates need to be brought forward. Where a course has already been assigned, your learners will automatically see the latest version of the course in their training plans.

Complaint handling and regulated firms

In response to the new regulations around complaints which come into effect on June 30th 2016, a new version of this course has been released to cover:
  • the extension of the next business day rule,
  • the reporting of complaints and
  • the requirement for firms to send a summary resolution.
Make sure the relevant people in your business update their knowledge to ensure they know how to comply with the new requirements.

Combating market abuse

With new trading platforms, rapidly advancing technology and an ever expanding global financial markets footprint, new forms of market manipulation inevitably follow.

In 2014 The European Commission published new Market Abuse Regulation (MAR), as well as a new Market Abuse Directive (MAD) which becomes applicable to UK firms on July 3rd 2016. An updated version of Combating market abuse has been released to help staff understand their obligations and responsibilities under the new rules.

Bribery and Corruption

There have been no changes in the regulations since our last periodic review so this update focusses on some general enhancements around the regulator’s expectations and around business-wide risk assessment.

Customer Due Diligence

Guidance issued in February 2016 stated that firms should conduct enhanced due diligence (EDD) and ongoing monitoring of situations that present a greater risk of money-laundering. The update includes examples of when this might be applicable.


Policy statement PS15/24 requires that the arrangements regarding Whistleblowing in deposit-takers, PRA-designated investment firms and insurers become far more formalised. This update will ensure that individuals in those relevant firms understand the requirements from both an individual and organisational point of view. The course is still relevant for those in firms where PS15/24 is not yet applicable.

Data Protection Act and Information Security

The new EU data protection framework has been agreed and will be directly applicable in all member states. The new regulation is known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

The GDPR will replace the current directive and comes into force in 2018. However, the impact will be significant, hence the course has been updated now to reflect the changes.

Conflicts of Interest

There have been no changes in the regulations since our last periodic review.  This update includes additional content emphasizing the regulator’s stance, aligned to the handbook rules and guidance in SYSC (Senior Management Systems and Controls), plus details of a recent fine received by a wealth management firm for failing to identify and manage a conflict of interest. There is also additional content clarifying the regulator’s focus and expectations on what are considered excessive gifts.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Arrears and Possessions eLearning Library

We constantly review our products and services to ensure they continue to deliver benefit to our clients, are fit for purpose and provide value for money. With mortgage arrears and possessions at their lowest level since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, sales of our Arrears and Possessions (A&P) eLearning library have declined significantly over the last two years and unfortunately, this means it is no longer financially viable to maintain the library.

For A&P licence-holders this post provides advance notice of the withdrawal of the A&P library at Dec 31st 2016, after which it will be archived and no longer maintained.

To help organisations address remaining requirements in the A&P area, it is our intention to create a brand new eLearning title on Arrears and Litigation, covering the key learning points from the most widely-used modules within the A&P library. This new title will be added to the ComplianceServe library in Q4 2016 and will therefore be available to all ComplianceServe clients at no additional charge. 

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss a custom replacement for the current A&P library, please do not hesitate to contact your Unicorn Relationship Manager who will be happy to explore the options with you.

- Your ComplianceServe Team

Brand New Training Announced for ComplianceServe

We are pleased to announce that 2016/17 is going to see some exciting changes in the way that administrators and end users are trained on ComplianceServe.

With the appointment of Debbie Jones as our Training Manager, we are reviewing how we deliver both initial training and ongoing performance support for ComplianceServe. Debbie brings over 16 years' systems training experience across a variety of mediums, from face-to-face to virtual and says; "Systems training doesn't have to be a one off classroom session with the trainer at the front presenting to a room full of participants struggling to stay awake!" she says. "It should be engaging and focused on what learners need, with hands on practical application followed by further support when you need it. Learning should be little and often - whoever walked out of a training session knowing everything?".
Starting next month, we’ll be running a series of scheduled webinars aimed at system administrators and focussing on different aspects of ComplianceServe:

Every Tuesday – Content Administration
Every Wednesday – Organisation & User Administration
Every Thursday – Reporting Administration
Every Friday – eCreator
These sessions, which are designed to follow the initial System Administration Overview training will help you exploit the functionality of the ComplianceServe solution, streamline ongoing administration, and ensure you get the most from the platform.

Over the next two months we will also be creating a series of short 'how to' videos on the key ComplianceServe functionality, to provide on demand performance support for administrators and end users alike. Debbie says, "we already know 70% of learning takes place on the job with only 10% in a formal learning environment. This is why a just-in-time approach or on-demand learning is so important and our video guides will provide you that support, when you need it, wherever you are, in bite-sized accessible chunks."

To reserve places, please contact the Help Desk who will advise on availability, and watch this space for details of these additional new learning resources.

Image showing the ComplianceServe product logo against a generic background

Friday, 29 April 2016

New eLearning – FATCA, CASS & Transaction Reporting


It was estimated that the US Treasury lost $8bn of income tax revenue annually, due to US citizens hiding funds in offshore accounts. During President Obama’s time in office, he enacted The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act 2010, more commonly known as FATCA. FATCA was intended to recoup those funds.

To the US, the UK is offshore. Failure to comply with the obligations can result in penalties and fines. 

Some firms choose not to hold accounts for US citizens. However, if your firm is one of those that do and you are involved in the management or day-to-day running of these accounts, you will need to:
  • understand the basic principles of FATCA - which accounts are reportable
  • recognise situations where failure to comply with FATCA may arise
  • know which penalties may be applied for lack of compliance
  • be familiar with the various terms used within FATCA and be able to explain their relevance.

The new pathway on FATCA provides learners with all of the above. 

The Basics of CASS (Client Assets Sourcebook)

In the last few years, the FCA has issued over £180 million in fines to firms over CASS issues and breaches.

Increased consumer detriment can arise when authorised firms default or leave the market. Poor records and ineffective segregation procedures for client monies create a slower, costlier and more uncertain outcome for the customer, along with associated reputational damage to the FCA and UK markets, as we saw with the most recent financial crisis.

Lack of knowledge and awareness are the biggest causes of CASS breaches – particularly during periods of change such as mergers and acquisitions.

The CASS affects all firms that have permission to hold and control client money as well as firms that are authorised to carry out activities such as safeguarding, arranging and administering assets. Adhering to CASS requirements is fundamental to ensuring client money and assets are dealt with correctly, protecting the customer, the firm and the market.

If employees are new to the role of control of client monies, or need a refresher to bring them up to date with current CASS regulatory requirements and the reasons why they need to be adhered to, this module is for them. 

Transaction Reporting

Understanding transaction reporting and the role it plays is vital in protecting the market, firms and clients from financial market abuse, insider trading and market manipulation.  It supports the statutory objectives of maintaining confidence in financial markets and reducing financial crime.  

Firms can expect enforcement action for submitting transaction reports incorrectly that may conceal potential instances of market abuse.

Common areas of non-compliance with the regulation are due to:
  • not understanding the importance of submitting transaction reports in a manner that correctly shows the transaction
  • not understanding why using transaction reports is essential as part of monitoring and surveillance of financial crime
  • not having processes for conducting internal and external reconciliations that are clear, concise and reviewed on a regular basis. 

Transaction reporting is a priority for the FCA and is a key tool in identifying potential market abuse and market surveillance to ensure the integrity of the UK financial services market. If an employee’s role involves, or is party to, submitting transaction reports, make sure they understand the part they play by having them complete this module.

New eLearning – Cybercrime & Three Lines of Defence

Even though the level of awareness of cyber threats has increased, and law enforcement acts globally to combat them, illegal profits have reached amazing figures.

The regulators require firms to establish three lines of defence supported by clear and robust processes and procedures in order to combat potential criminal activities. Cybercrime and digital attacks have increased around the world and are an ever-increasing threat to a firm’s survival.

Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated targeting consumers as well as public, private and government organisations.

At work, many employees wrongly believe that the organisation will provide all the protection needed, so they think they don’t need to be concerned about cyber-activity – they do.

By adopting robust policies and procedures that support the firm’s three lines of defence and understanding the part individuals play in tackling Cybercrime, we can help: 

  • prevent the loss of intellectual property and sensitive data
  • avoid the cost of mitigation strategies and recovery from cyber-attacks
  • mitigate any penalties and compensatory payments to customers (for inconvenience or consequential loss), or contractual compensation (for delays, etc.)
  • prevent the loss of reputational and brand damage.

The new modules on cybercrime and three lines of defence will help learners understand how your firm could be exposed to cybercrime and how embedding the practices of the regulators’ three lines of defence can help to mitigate that exposure.