UK retail banks struggling with cost of compliance

UK retail banks struggling with cost of compliance

Almost a third of UK retail banking and insurance organisations say that industry regulations on documentation are placing additional cost burdens on their business, according to a study released by Thunderhead and Xansa.

The survey of 50 banks and insurance firms found that 65% believe the cost of effecting any necessary changes to templates as a result of FSA regulatory changes would be 'very' or 'quite' costly. Only five per cent believed it would not be costly at all.

Just under half - 46% - said it was either 'difficult' or 'very difficult' to affect the mandatory changes to documents necessary to meet deadlines such as the impending A-Day on 6th April 2006.

The study found that only 15% of firms have already implemented changes to their customer documentation processes, while over half (58%) say they will have to move to a more efficient customer documentation system in order to achieve compliance.

Thunderhead, which supplies document generation technology, says many organisations are trying to support over 10,000 document templates - each subject to changing compliance regulations.

Glen Manchester, CEO, Thunderhead, says the survey revealed that the cost of changing documents to meet new compliance requirements can run into the thousands, just to change a single letter.

"With the typical retail bank or insurance company managing thousands of different document templates, the cost of compliance easily spirals out of control," he adds.

The vendor says it has teamed with IT services and consulting firm Xansa to offer financial services firms in the UK a package of document generation services.

Separate research released by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has found that over half of firms surveyed are failing to comply with its rules on disclosure of firm status and commission charges, introduced under depolarisation last year. These two 'keyfacts' documents are tools for helping consumers understand how the new advice regime works.

The regulator carried out 130 mystery shopping assessments of 81 firms of all sizes. This showed that advisers gave out both of the required documents in only 58% of the assessments, and in only 42% of the assessments were both of the documents given out and at the right time.

The FSA also carried out desk-based work into the contents of 519 disclosure documents from 168 firms and found that 65% of these documents contained errors and many of these were in key sections that could make it difficult for consumers to compare and shop around.

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