1An effective wind-down plan would include a predetermined communications plan that considers the contents and timing of communications, including website updates (and possibly a hotline), to a wide range of stakeholders, such as relevant regulators (e.g. the listing authority, stock exchange, FCA, overseas regulators etc.), employees, customers, service providers, shareholders, bondholders, relevant industry associations and trade bodies and the media. Some suggested elements the firm may want to consider for the communications plan include:
identifying the stakeholders to be engaged;
determining who should engage those stakeholders;
agreeing the internal process for drafting and approving any communication to the stakeholders;
establishing guidance and procedures for a proactive vs a reactive communication strategy (or combination);
preparing scripts in advance if appropriate, e.g. holding statements, acknowledging that detailed messaging may only be possible reactively; and
recognising the potential need for the governing body to engage with legal advisors and communication experts (e.g. through media training).
Good stakeholder contact during the wind-down period will support the FCA’s consumer protection and market integrity statutory objectives. Communications should be carefully handled to avoid a lack of reliable information or leaks which could create concerns among consumers and, in more severe cases, an increased risk of detriment and disruption to the wider market.
In line with Principle 11 (PRIN 2.1.1R), firms need to be mindful of their obligation to keep the FCA informed of material developments. This includes issues that might threaten the ongoing viability of the firm and any decision(s) to cease operations. Thereafter, a regular dialogue between the firm and the regulator needs to be maintained.
It is important for the firm to identify one or more individuals who will be responsible for coordinating effective and timely communications during the wind-down period. These individuals are likely to include senior decision-makers as well as those with specialist communications/technology skills, for example those with knowledge of financial disclosure requirements, web publishers etc. This is particularly relevant for a group of companies, or where listed entities are involved. In order for these individuals to effectively deliver communications in a wind-down they will need the appropriate training, tools, systems and resources.