Financial services websites today
Regulatory restrictions in the financial services industry are at an all-time high. After some harmonization in the early 2000s, the current trend is now reversing back towards nationalization. One of the areas where this trend has a huge impact is the world wide web. Because the internet is global by definition, country-specific laws and regulations are always an incompatible concept. And in the case of a company’s website, the discrepancy between what could be done (marketing all your products globally) and what is allowed (tailored content for a visitor from a specific country) is only a mouse click apart.
On websites of regulated financial institutions, this discrepancy becomes even more apparent: Investment product-related content is restricted to visitors from very few countries. On top of that, many banks and asset managers require users to read and accept disclaimer texts that manage legal risks of offering country-specific investment services.
It’s a lose-lose-lose situation:
- Website visitors are scared away by a firm’s investment offering ridden with exhausting disclaimer language
- Sales and marketing staff have to choose between the user experience and the complex restrictions defined by internal legal teams
- Legal and compliance staff are struggling to keep track and interpret country-specific regulations
The challenge of regulatory restrictions
Regulations in many countries restrict the offering of financial services and investment products such as investment funds or structured products. Depending on the jurisdiction, this applies to asset or wealth managers as well as to retail banks alike.
Some jurisdictions are more relaxed with institutional clients or reverse solicitation, while others – with offering services to existing clients or investment products registered in the country. These attributes are the so-called ‘offering context’.
Jurisdictions are just one side of the story: financial institutions market services through different legal entities that can operate under a local regulatory license (e.g. a banking license), a passporting regime or a similar exemption framework or without a local registration at all. Distinguishing between them has a huge impact and must be factored in.
Thanks to this regulatory complexity it’s difficult to manage financial services websites, which leaves you with the following options if you want to stay compliant:
|Offering scope||Risk minimisation||Speed of implementing||Ease of maintenance|
|Option 1: minimise your website offering||+||+++||+||++|
|Option 2: introduce hard-coded rules to website||+++||++||++||+|
|Option 3: introduce dynamic compliance checks||++++||++++||+++||+++|
Introducing dynamic compliance checks for financial services online
Obtaining country-specific legal information and clarifying the restrictions about marketing activities is cumbersome even without having to interpret this legal content into a business and IT language.
The most efficient way to solve this starts with the right set of machine-readable rules that cover the DO’s and DON’Ts of how you can show your products and services on your website. Built with verified legal expertise this digital rule repository operates in the background and ensures that only compliant products are shown to any user who lands on the website. Machine-readable rules allow a seamless integration in the backend but also help compliance teams understand the regulatory restrictions for websites and apply a company’s risk appetite to what products can be displayed.
To turn a financial services website into an industry-standard example by conducting dynamic compliance checks, you will therefore need the following three building blocks:
- A financial services offering: an overview of the services and investment products you intend to offer through your legal entities and in your target markets
- The right set of regulatory rules: a full repository of machine-readable rules for compliant offering of your services and investment products via your website
- Easy integration options: your developers should be able to bring those machine-readable rules in house with a one-time project and ensure you stay compliant without delays
Benefits powered by dynamic compliance checks
- Hyper-targeted products that are highly relevant for potential clients
- Always compliant with the right set of digitalised legal opinions
- Scalability by easy addition of new countries
- No more IT bottlenecks thanks to a one-time integration