In the case of managing investments, a transaction might also be unsuitable if it would result in an unsuitable portfolio.
A series of transactions that are each suitable when viewed in isolation may be unsuitable if the recommendation or the decisions to trade are made with a frequency that is not in the best interests of the client.
A firm should have regard to the client's agreed investment strategy in determining the frequency of transactions. This would include, for example, the need to switch a client within or between packaged products.
When a firm is making a personal recommendation to a retail client about income withdrawals, uncrystallised funds pension lump sum payments3 or purchase of short-term annuities, it should consider all the relevant circumstances including:
current and future income requirements, existing pension assets and the relative importance of the plan, given the client’s financial circumstances;
the client’s attitude to risk, ensuring that any discrepancy is clearly explained between his or her3 attitude to an income withdrawal, uncrystallised funds pension lump sum payment3 or purchase of a short-term annuity and other investments.
When considering the suitability of a particular investment product which is linked directly or indirectly to any form of loan, mortgage or home reversion plan, a firm should take account of the suitability of the overall transaction. The firm should also have regard to any applicable suitability rules in MCOB.
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A firm should be satisfied that an exemption is available before recommending an investment subject to a restriction on distribution to a retail client, noting in particular that a personal recommendation to invest will generally incorporate a financial promotion.2
In addition to assessing whether the promotion is permitted, a firm giving advice on a designated investment subject to a restriction on distribution 2 should comply with their obligations in COBS 9 and ensure any personal recommendation is suitable for its client.2
In considering its obligations under COBS 9, a firm purchasing a designated investment subject to a restriction on distribution on behalf of a retail client as part of a discretionary management agreement should exercise particular care to ensure the transaction is suitable and in that client’s best interests, having regard to the FCA’s view that such designated investments pose particular risks of inappropriate distribution.2
A restriction on promotion does not affect a transaction where there has been no prior communication with the client in connection with the investment by the firm or a person connected to the firm. Nonetheless, if promotion of a designated investment to a retail client would not have been permitted, then the discretionary manager’s decision to purchase it on behalf of the retail client should be supported by detailed and robust justification of his assessment of suitability.2