Why do I have to provide so much personal information to financial organisations?
Our Compliance Assistant, Les Shakespeare tells us why it's so important that clients tell their advisers everything.
A great many people have no doubt asked this question in recent years. Having previously worked for a major High street Bank (including a spell in a department dealing with theft & fraud), then a small private Bank and now a financial advisory firm I am able to offer some help with the answer.
"Please remember that you also need to be vigilant when receiving any request or contact from an organisation."
Unfortunately, criminals and also terrorist organisations continue to become ever more sophisticated in their activities. Going back in time most financial crime was committed using forged documents such as passports and forged signatures on stolen or duplicated cheques. In the past I have interviewed criminals who were not only incredibly plausible but also produced near perfect forged documents to substantiate their story and their request to open a bank account. In more recent times fraudulent card transactions, fraudulent faxes, duplicated email addresses and more recently telephone calls using a legitimate organisations number (which your mobile or home phone will recognise) have been used in an effort to defraud.
To try and combat this type of crime the government through several organisations including the Financial Conduct Authority require firms to not only know their clients sufficiently well to enable them to provide the correct financial advice but also to ensure that they properly identify the individual. At Harding Financial we have rigorous processes in place to ensure that we meet all the necessary criteria in order to best protect our clients. This includes refreshing out of date identification information such as a passport or proof of address. Additionally, we are required to have procedures in place to ensure that information is only disclosed when we have correctly identified the individual making the request. Any request to change an address or bank details will be required in writing. Although these procedures might be a little frustrating for you at times it is clearly in our best interest to comply.
"At Harding Financial we have rigorous processes in place to ensure that we meet all the necessary criteria in order to best protect our clients."
Recently a friend of mine mentioned that “out of the blue” an elderly relative had been asked to visit her bank where she had held an account for more than 30 years. Several large organisations, including Banks, have suffered substantial fines because of shortcomings in their systems relating to the prevention of financial crime. In the case of the elderly relative the request might have been prompted by a review which showed that they might not have properly identified her at the outset or perhaps a recent transaction had revealed that her signature differed from the one on their file. Any request of this type is fuelled by a desire to protect both the client and the organisation from potential fraud in the future.
Finally, please remember that you also need to be vigilant when receiving any request or contact from an organisation. I have personally received spurious emails in the past which have purported to come from the VAT inspector, H M Revenue and Customs and several Banks. If it looks or feels unusual then it could be fraudulent!
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