Key Points of Our Code of Practice
The members of the Professional Financial Claims Association wish to set professional standards for member firms and represent the interests of the member. The PFCA expect members to act with the utmost honesty, integrity and professionalism. Its code sets out the standards that are required from members who are involved in the financial claims management market.
Addressing Consumers Key Issues:
Principles for Marketing & Advertising
- All advertising and information provided to Consumers must be clear, fair and not misleading.
- Members must not imply in advertising (or other communications) that Consumers will have an increased chance of success through using the services of a CMC.
- Members must not lead Consumers to believe that their case can be “fast-tracked” through using their service.
- Members must display their full terms and conditions of business and details of their fees on their websites without the requirement for Consumers to provide their personal data in order to obtain those terms and conditions and/or details of fees.
- Members must not engage in high pressure selling.
Types of Marketing—SMS, Telemarketing, Email, Doorstep and Direct Mail
- Members are not permitted to use SMS to market their services or purchase marketing data from a third party who obtains it via SMS marketing.
- Members must ensure that marketing calls are made at reasonable times of the day and not on Sundays or UK Public Holidays. For the avoidance of doubt “reasonable times of the day” are defined as between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays.
- Members must make it easy for Consumers to opt out of receiving email marketing communications with a simple link contained within the email.
- Members are not permitted to use doorstep selling to market their services.
- Members must make it easy for Consumers to opt out of marketing communications via direct mail with simple instructions contained within the mailing or a return slip.
Fees & How they are charged
- Members are generally permitted to charge for services in advance of them being provided but only if the Member can unequivocally demonstrate that it could not reasonably provide the service without such a fee being paid in advance. However, Members are not permitted in any instance to charge a fee in advance of the services where the claim is in respect of PPI and PBA mis-selling.(bulk claims)
- Where Members are informed that the Client is experiencing financial difficulties, Members should try to accommodate the individual’s circumstances so far as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances.
- When deciding what level of fees to apply to their service, Members must ensure that the fees are transparent and reasonable in light of the service being offered.
- Members are permitted to make an hourly charge should the Client decide to terminate their agreement after the 14 day cooling off period. However, these fees should reflect the actual costs incurred by the Member and not include work carried out during the 14 day cooling off period. Members are required to keep a record and evidence to justify the calculation of their termination fees (see section 8 for further information).
Investigating, Submitting & Managing Claims for Compensation
- Members must not accept claims from Consumers where the individual is or has been the subject of a bankruptcy order, Debt Relief Order (DRO) or Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). Where Members come into contact with such Consumers, they should provide them with details of a not-for-profit organisation which may be more suitable for their circumstances. Members should also make clear to Consumers that their financial circumstances do not affect the merits of their claim.
- Members must not advise potential Clients without valid grounds for complaint to pursue a claim for compensation.
- Members must advise potential Clients to pursue a claim for compensation only if the service being offered meets their needs and it is in their interests to do so.
Conducting Professional Relationships with Financial Businesses
- Members must take care not to make derogatory remarks to Consumers about defendant parties and/or alternative dispute resolution services
- Members must act professionally in their dealings with defendant parties and any recognised dispute resolution service such as the Financial Ombudsman Service.
- Members must treat employees and agents of defendant parties and any recognised dispute resolution service courteously and with respect.
Staff Training & Monitoring
- Members must monitor their staff on an ongoing basis and ensure compliance with the Code and CMR conduct rules.
- Members must provide specific and ongoing training to their staff in relation to claims management and the various types of complaints and products for which the Member manages claims.
Contracts & Termination
- Members must have contracts that are written in a manner that is easy for Consumers to understand.
- Members must allow Clients to withdraw from a contract at any time.
- Members’ contracts must contain details about the charges that will be made in the event of a successful claim and in the event of termination and in which circumstances such termination fees will be charged (if applicable).
- Members must not charge a termination fee where the Client or the Member is terminating the contract because the Client has been adjudicated bankrupt or entered into an IVA.
- Members must instil a culture of data protection within their organisation at all levels.
Code of Practice
The Professional Financial Claims Association has engaged the services of Rockstead to carry out ‘Assurance Audits’ in respect of its members’ compliance with the published Code of Practice