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COBS 4.10 Systems and controls and approving and communicating financial promotions

Systems and controls

COBS 4.10.1G

The rules in SYSC 3 (and also for Solvency II firms, the PRA Rulebook: Solvency II firms: Conditions Governing Business)1 and SYSC 4 require a firm that communicates with a client in relation to designated investment business, or communicates or approves a financial promotion, to put in place systems and controls or policies and procedures, or an effective internal control system,1 in order to comply with the rules in this chapter.

Approving financial promotions

COBS 4.10.2R

  1. (1)

    Before a firm approves a financial promotion for communication by an unauthorised person, it must confirm that the financial promotion complies with the financial promotion rules.

  2. (2)

    If, at any time after a firm has complied with (1), a firm becomes aware that a financial promotion no longer complies with the financial promotion rules, it must withdraw its approval and notify any person that it knows to be relying on its approval as soon as reasonably practicable.

  3. (3)

    When approving a financial promotion, the firm must confirm compliance with the financial promotion rules that would have applied if the financial promotion had been communicated by a firm other than in relation to MiFID or equivalent third country business.

COBS 4.10.3G

  1. (1)

    Section 21(1) of the Act (Restrictions on financial promotion) prohibits an unauthorised person from communicating a financial promotion, in the course of business, unless an exemption applies or the financial promotion is approved by a firm. Many of the rules in this chapter apply when a firm approves a financial promotion in the same way as when a firm communicates a financial promotion itself.

  2. (2)

    A firm may also wish to approve a financial promotion that it communicates itself. This would ensure that an unauthorised person who then also communicates the financial promotion to another person will not contravene the restriction on financial promotion in the Act (section 21).

  3. (3)

    Approving a financial promotion for communication by an unauthorised person is not MiFID or equivalent third country business.

  4. (4)

    A firm may not approve a financial promotion relating to an unregulated collective investment scheme unless the firm would be able to communicate the promotion without breaching section 238(1) of the Act (see section 240 of the Act). The exemptions from that section in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Promotion of Collective Investment Schemes) (Exemptions) Order 2001 (as amended from time to time) are relevant.

COBS 4.10.4R

A firm must not approve a financial promotion to be made in the course of a personal visit, telephone conversation or other interactive dialogue.

COBS 4.10.5R

If a firm approves a financial promotion in circumstances in which one or more of the financial promotion rules, or the prohibition on approval of promotions for collective investment schemes in section 240(1) of the Act (Restriction on approval), are expressly disapplied, the approval must be given on terms that it is limited to those circumstances.

COBS 4.10.6G

For example, if a firm approves a financial promotion for communication to a professional client or an eligible counterparty, the approval must be limited to communication to such persons.

COBS 4.10.7G

If an approval is limited, and an unauthorised person communicates the financial promotion to persons not covered by the approval, the unauthorised person may commit an offence under the restriction on financial promotion in the Act (section 21). A firm giving a limited approval may wish to notify the unauthorised person accordingly.

Communicating financial promotions

COBS 4.10.8G

If a firm continues to communicate a financial promotion when the financial promotion no longer complies with the rules in this chapter, it will breach those rules.

COBS 4.10.9G

A financial promotion which is clearly only relevant at a particular date will not cease to comply with the financial promotion rules merely because the passage of time has rendered it out-of-date; an example would be a dated analyst's report.

Relying on another firm's confirmation of compliance

COBS 4.10.10R

  1. (1)

    A firm (A) will not contravene any of the financial promotion rules if it communicates a financial promotion which has been produced by another person and:

    1. (a)

      A takes reasonable care to establish that another firm (B) has confirmed that the financial promotion complies with the financial promotion rules;

    2. (b)

      A takes reasonable care to establish that it communicates the financial promotion only to recipients of the type for whom it was intended at the time B carried out the confirmation exercise; and

    3. (c)

      so far as A is, or ought reasonably to be, aware:

      1. (i)

        the financial promotion has not ceased to be fair, clear and not misleading since that time; and

      2. (ii)

        B has not withdrawn the financial promotion.

  2. (2)

    This rule does not apply in relation to MiFID or equivalent third country business.

COBS 4.10.11G

A firm should inform anyone relying on its confirmation of compliance if it becomes aware that the financial promotion no longer complies with the rules in this chapter.