Advice restrictions if overseas – justified or out of sync?

by | Mar 17, 2023

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Currently, brokers may struggle, or are simply unable, to give advice when overseas, as the FCA, some banks and networks require them to be on UK soil for all sorts of compliance and legal reasons.

They say some banks won’t let them access their systems from overseas (including through a VPN). Free PR platform, Newspage, asked brokers if this is a bit out of sync with modern remote and flexible working practices. The responses have been shared with IFA Magazine below.

Gary Boakes, Director at Verve Financial: “This is all incredibly frustrating, as we have a network that has adopted these rules. Gone are the days of doing a mortgage application by the side of a pool, as working on holiday is often the only way of having a holiday when you are self-employed. I have previously had a client that during Covid was able to work from home so he moved to his parent’s holiday let in France. To transact the mortgage we had to get him to travel back to the UK so we could advise him of our recommendation.”

Scott Taylor-Barr, Financial Adviser at Carl Summers Financial Services: “This is an issue that has been bubbling for a while and does need to be addressed properly at some point. I don’t think the rule around adviser and client being on UK soil at the point advice is given in itself is wrong. Otherwise we would have all sorts of issues if UK registered firms were suddenly using overseas call centres to transact business in the UK, but the actual business was on the other side of the world and well away from the watchful gaze, and occasional teeth, of the regulator. However, in a sector that is dominated by individual practitioners, many of whom are self-employed, it does create issues around holidays abroad. While that may seem minor, in a more remote working world it limits advisers’ ability to travel, so should be addressed in some way, or it could ultimately limit the profession’s appeal to new entrants.


Katy Eatenton, Mortgage & Protection Specialist at Lifetime Wealth Management: “The rules in place currently are so frustrating. When the world is gearing up towards remote working, not being able to work when you’re on holiday or moving overseas for a couple of months of the year is extremely annoying, not to mention inconvenient. Where you are located in the world doesn’t affect the advice that you give to your clients, and the fact that some networks allow it, and some don’t means there’s no hard and fast rule. We need actual guidelines rather than individual preferences dependent on individual lenders and networks.”

David Robinson, Co-Founder at Wildcat Law: “The answer is actually very simple but so many banks and networks like to complicate it. The snappily titled PERG 2.4.3 provides the steer. It is entirely possible and compliant to provide advice to a UK client whilst sat on a beach or in a bar on top of a mountain in another country, as long as the business you work for is a UK one and the regulated activity is a UK one. However there is a real risk that some countries have very stringent rules about investment advice being provided from their territory. No one wants to be the one to test if this applies to remote workers it seems. There are a multitude of reasons that organisations actually perpetuate this myth, one being they don’t want workers to work flexibly whilst sat on a beach in the Bahamas with a pina colada in one hand and a laptop in the other.”

Benjamin Blyth, Director at Houz Mortgages: “It seems to be true that advice cannot be given away from UK soil, however there are some big brokers out there doing it, with offices in Dubai for example. So, there must be a way for business to be done that the regulator accepts. No contract is ever really with the broker, it’s between lender and borrower, so is the middleman’s location really of importance? I’ve done a little admin whilst abroad in the past and of all lenders found that a certain Welsh building society wouldn’t allow access from Turkey! At the time, no other lender site was blocked so it was easy to keep on top of things. That said, I use a VPN wherever I am now and so I’d question if anyone really knows where you are. Not allowing advice from overseas is out of sync with the world and a way of allowing it should be agreed upon, in my opinion.”


Justin Moy, Managing Director at EHF Mortgages: “This is ultimately about where a contract is deemed to be ‘executed’. UK legislation and financials would need to be executed on UK soil, or else the contract would probably come under the jurisdiction of the country in which it originated. I am sure we have all done a little bit on holiday, and that would be lost in the mix, but if it is a long-term change, say a change in where you live overseas, that would be more of an issue. But I believe this has always been the case.”

Rhys Schofield, Managing Director at Peak Mortgages and Protection: “Many a broker has taken a laptop with them on holiday to take a quick client call because they want to be able to support their client. What difference does that actually make as long as a client is being well looked after and UK advice standards are being followed?”

Luke Thompson, Director at PAB Wealth Management: “This is definitely something that needs to be looked at within the industry, especially if you are a one man band. We have been advised by our compliance network that we are not allowed to engage with customers whilst we are outside of the UK. However, most advisers will only have one phone number for example and turning round to a customer and saying I can’t do anything with your issue until I get back to the country sounds very much ‘computer says no’ and doesn’t offer the level of customer service that most advisers I know look to achieve.”


Lewis Shaw, Owner and Mortgage Broker at Riverside Mortgages: “I know brokers who live in sunnier climes and write business without trouble. It’s a mixed bag between lenders as to who you can and can’t access rather than a blanket approach. It seems odd that these types of restrictions apply in today’s world, where geographical location is less important than ever. It feels even stranger that I can’t write a mortgage from a balcony in Spain, yet people can salt their money away in Panama and governments turn a blind eye. I guess different rules apply depending on your bank balance.”

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