The UK has an accepted “shortcut” for mergers and reorganisations involving financial products, as set out in Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This allows for approval by court hearing provided an approach is agreed with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulators and carried out as planned with appropriate evidence. To keep on the right side of the regulatory requirements, here are some important aspects to consider for communicating this change to the required parties.
1. Data is key
Before you even start, find out what contact details your systems can provide about the relevant audiences. For example, you may have significant overseas policyholder groups and need a geographical analysis of your databases to determine what overseas press or mailed notifications are needed.
You’ll need to agree your approach with the PRA/FCA based on what you can do with your data and its quality.
2. A critical timeline is essential
A comms programme typically takes 4-6 months from draft scheme documents to completion of notification mailings. Then audiences must have ample time – up to a couple of months – to respond before the Scheme Hearing date.
3. Physical and online communications
You may be allowed to send out just summary notifications to your audiences, signposting them to the bulkier statutory information such as the Independent Expert’s report on your web pages. It all needs carefully drafted and approved by the regulator as a key part of your approach.
4. Evidence required
The producer of your mailed communications needs to look after your data meticulously and provide all the necessary reconciliations. From proven receipt of all your data through to tangible evidence that all intended recipients have been sent the notification. This 100% completeness comes from the Mailing Integrity Platforms attached to bulk enclosing lines. The outcome for every contact record you provide must be accounted for and may need to be evidenced to the regulators.
5. Be prepared to respond
Part VII notifications must offer recipients the chance to ask further questions, request more information, have their views recorded for the court and attend the Scheme Hearing. This needs response management systems that can be accessed by call centre staff to record all communications and prove that all relevant enquiries have been fully answered. Expect a response of up to 2% of which as much as 90% may be business as usual and unrelated to the Part VII itself.
6. Take good advice
You likely don’t do a Part VII every day or even every year. But some people do.
If you lack the expertise in-house, seek out a project manager with the right experience; there are several specialists available. Similarly choose communication suppliers who appreciate the obligations and complexities inherent in the project.
7. Know the risks and plan to minimise them
These are high profile activities in the public eye. There are risks in not meeting the schedule or failing to get all the information to all the required audiences. Correcting or repeating a notification and delaying the process would be a very costly mistake. So, to minimise the risks plan everything out in detail, monitor progress against the plan constantly and make sure to build in contingencies for unforeseen turbulence.
Part VII projects are often very large, with many moving parts and participants. Handled properly they are very rewarding and satisfying to complete successfully.
Good luck with the challenge!
About Forth – the Part VII experts
Forth provides end-to-end communication solutions agreed with the PRA/FCA, from Court Directions Hearing through to Scheme Effective Date and beyond.
For 30 years, we’ve delivered complex and demanding policyholder communications for some of the largest pension and insurance providers and their advisers engaged in mergers and acquisitions, particularly Part VII transfers.
Check out our case study of a recent Part VII transfer here.
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