The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the financial services industry, including insurance brokers like Romero.
It ensures key rules are followed so customers are protected, and the industry is never thrown into disrepute. Insurers and brokerages should be looked upon as businesses with integrity, good ethos and moral standing. Compliance and organisational culture play a big part in ensuring this happens successfully.
Here at Romero, we are bound by clear rules and regulations set by the FCA. These principles of good regulation must be interpreted by each business individually, though it is expected that businesses within the financial services industry will incorporate these principles into their operations.
Treating customers fairly and ensuring the business is controlled effectively are just two of the principles that are woven into the very heart of our operations. For our team, simply treating customers fairly isn’t enough. We aim to go one step more and treat customers exceptionally. This message underpins our whole brand philosophy – it’s even displayed in huge lettering in our offices, to remind us every day how important it is.
We believe that, in order to achieve compliance, we must ensure we have a fantastic company culture. Our compliance team works closely with our HR department to make sure culture and compliance are seamlessly combined.
The key principles we must consider as a business are:
- Skill, care and diligence
- Management and control
- Financial prudence
- Market conduct
- Customers’ interests
- Communications with clients
- Conflicts of interest
- Customers: relationships of trust
- Clients’ assets
- Relations with regulators
Read on to discover how we have interpreted these principles to ensure compliance is embedded into our organisational culture.
Paying attention to our customers and their needs
Our customers trust us to find the right insurance solutions to suit their requirements. We pride ourselves on really getting to know our clients and understanding their business needs. This helps us to advise on the insurance products they need to protect their organisation, their people and members of the public.
By really paying attention to our customers and putting their best interests first, we can assure them that the policies we recommend are the right ones for the most competitive price. And they trust us to get this right every time.
We hire the right people who genuinely care about our customers. Our values are embedded in everything we do – and there’s a strong focus on making the right decision for our clients. Our people know to be thorough, dedicated and determined to do their best. This positive attitude passes on to our customers.
Professionalism and expertise
We can provide such a high level of service to customers because we hire the best people for the job. There’s no doubt our employees know their stuff, and their bountiful knowledge ensures customers get the best service.
We want our people to be the best they can be, both for our customers and for themselves. We make sure our employees are trained thoroughly and understand their responsibilities when it comes to compliance. There’s even full compliance inductions for new starters so everyone within the business understands the importance of FCA’s principles and why we must comply with them.
Demonstrating good culture and working practices
It’s all very well and good having a strong culture and ethical working practices, but our customers and the wider industry need to know about it. We send regular communication out to our clients advising them of key business updates, industry news and other advice/insight they may find useful. It’s this added value that makes us stand out and demonstrates that we treat our customers fairly and with respect.
To achieve their best, our team needs to feel their best. Our wellbeing focus ensures our team can thrive both professionally and personally. From annual health checks and on-site fitness classes through to free counselling sessions and wellbeing webinars, there’s always something going on to help give our employees (and our company culture) a boost.
Compliance is not just a tick box exercise. We are all about improving our processes and being the best we can be for our customers. Businesses evolve and times change – we need to be responsive and continually review our procedures. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” will never work for us. If we want to be different, we need to think different.
Our staff are encouraged to manage their own personal and professional development and are given all the tools they need to grow their knowledge. We’ve developed our very own Academy to allow employees to easily identify and access the training they need. We want everyone within the Group to feel empowered and encouraged to develop the skills the need to progress and ultimately provide the best service for our customers.
Senior management responsibility
Our leaders remind us all about the importance of our personal accountability. The Senior Leadership Team are all compliant with the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, and each person’s individual responsibilities are clear. Our leaders engage with their responsibilities and take on their role with passion and dedication. By leading from the front, this positive, hardworking attitude filters down to the rest of the team.
Our leaders match their word with actions, always taking a lead and showing the rest of the team how it’s done. This is an important part of our workplace culture, as our whole team follows by example. By working with a leadership team our people respect, everyone is encouraged to do their best.
Building our reputation
We are the UK’s best independent insurance brokers – a title given to us by industry-recognised awards – so it’s important we build a good reputation within the industry as well as with our customers.
The Romero Group also partners with key business organisations and associations such as BIBA, CII and NTIA. This helps us to understand what issues might be impacting our customers, so we can provide help and support if needed. It’s great to have such a solid reputation within the industry for treating customers fairly and always working ethically.
Our Senior Leadership Team have a high profile and strong public reputation. But it’s even more important to us that the leaders within our business are respected by our customers and our employees. The Romero team knows we have an open-door policy, and our Senior Leaders regularly provide transparent, honest communications to everyone within the business. New starters meet our CEO and Managing Director and learn about our Group’s history, so they are immersed and involved in the brand from the get-go. After all, our team are our best advocates.
Aligning compliance with enterprise
We are innovative in the way we interpret key regulations and principles, always doing what we can to go above and beyond. Compliance isn’t just a tick box exercise. We take the FCA’s principles seriously, and ensure we are interpreting them in the best possible way for our business.
We’re creative in the way we support our people. Simply saying we’re a great place to work isn’t enough. We arrange annual Insights surveys to find out how happy our people are at work, and identify the key ways we can improve our working environment. Then there’s TINYpulse, a tool that gives us the chance to ask our employees anonymous questions about our company culture and how we could improve the workplace.
We operate ethically not just because we have to, but because treating our customers fairly and doing the right thing genuinely matters to us. Our CEO founded the business over twenty years ago with the goal to do things differently and create a broker than put the customer’s interests at the very heart of its operations. To this day, we constantly evaluate our behaviour and ensure we’re operating in the most ethical way possible.
The Romero Group also champions ethical behaviour within the industry. We have recently been working closely with the FCA and leading industry lawyers to hold insurers to account when they have not treated customers fairly over claims related to COVID-19. We’re not just behaving ethically and doing the right thing ourselves, we’re standing up and fighting for others to do the same.
It’s obvious that we expect all staff to behave in an ethical, moral way at all times. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment, and all staff are given a handbook and additional guidance detailing what we expect daily. We incentivise and reward good working behaviours as well as strong performance.
Be accountable for our mistakes
We’ll never ignore a compliance mistake. Instead, we’ll delve deeper to look into and amend issues. You won’t find any papering over the cracks here! That’s why we’ve got a dedicated compliance team, risk managers on-site and dedicated IT department to ensure we’re always performing in a compliant way.
Our company values centre on continuous improvement, honesty and accountability. We don’t expect our people to sail through their professional life without making any mistakes. But when mistakes do happen, we expect our employees to hold their hands up and learn from them.
Safe and secure technology
Customers trust us to make sure we keep their data secure, so it’s up to us to put measures in place to ensure this is the case. We’ve previously showcased our expertise by discussing the importance of IT infrastructure, and we certainly practice what we preach.
Good use of technology is embedded in our culture. All staff receive cyber security training and updates / insight is regularly shared around the team. We all have responsibility to follow best practice when it comes to keeping our customers’ data safe.
Ready for the worst-case scenario
The business must continue to run effectively, even if the worst-case scenario happens. Our detailed Business Continuity Plan contains all the information and procedures we need to respond and recover to any unexpected incident whilst minimising business disruption and losses. Being prepared for the worst-case scenario is our key motto for clients, and we’ll never give advice we don’t take onboard ourselves.
We train our team to respond and adapt effectively. Being transparent with our employees is important to us. If we are ever required to respond to an unexpected scenario, we have effective communication strategies in place to ensure our team are in the best position possible to be flexible. That way, there’s never a dip in our outstanding levels of customer service.
We understand it is our duty as a business to act with due care and expertise. However, the FCA principles are open to interpretation.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: customers require our services and it’s our responsibility to understand and respond to their request fairly and with professionalism and expertise.
How do we prove compliance and culture?
Our compliance team regularly provide regulatory returns and feedback to the FCA. This includes showcasing how we have interpreted their principles effectively, ensuring good outcomes for both our business and customers.
As a top 20 commercial UK independent insurance broker, we have a high profile both with the FCA, our customers and others within the industry. It’s more important than ever to ensure compliance.
It’s also incredibly important we do the right thing by our staff and develop a positive workplace culture where our people grow and develop. Without a culture of honesty, development and strong moral integrity, it would be impossible to ensure our team were acting in a responsible way and always doing the best for our customers.
Listen to our Culture & Compliance Podcast!
We chat to our Compliance Manager, Ray Geary, and HR Business Support Manager Michael Craggs to find out more about what culture and compliance means for our business: