Is your communications platform ready for the new consumer duty?

by | Oct 11, 2022

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Looking ahead to the FCA’s new Consumer Duty rules, Faith Liversedge shares some practical tips on why and how your advice business should be reviewing the email tools you use to support your all-important client communication process.

As we creep ever closer to the roll-out and implementation of the FCA’s new Consumer Duty next year, it’s worth advice firms giving some thought to the technology they use to communicate with clients in advance of the new rules coming into play.

Many firms are already communicating with their clients regularly via email by sending newsletters. Those who are doing so will have likely seen better client engagement as a result, an uptick in referrals, increased awareness of your services, and all of that good stuff.

But, increasingly, the technology you use to send emails to clients matters. And with the rollout of a new Consumer Duty, it matters even more.

A good email marketing platform allows you to bulk email clients while ensuring good deliverability (basically this means that your emails don’t go into spam). But it actually does a whole lot more.

The Consumer Duty is very clear about two things when it comes to client communication and these are:

  • The importance of segmentation (read: relevance)
  • Engagement monitoring (ensuring clients are reading and engaging with what you send).

Key metrics

Here, a powerful (and well set up) email marketing platform will allow you to do both, particularly monitoring several key metrics as I’ve outlined below:

Bounce rate – were your emails delivered to your clients/prospects? Are their email addresses valid and in use? Or perhaps something else is going awry? Either way, seeing a bounce gives you an opportunity to follow up with that client via another channel, exactly the sort of proactivity vis-a-vis communications that the FCA is looking for.

Open rate – this is your core metric, basically – what percentage of your clients/prospects are opening your emails? Keeping an eye on this is crucial when sending client communications.

Click rate – this tells you what percentage of contacts clicked on a link in your email, this shows you a deeper level of engagement.

But there’s more… while these metrics are valuable and important to keep an eye on in the aggregate it’s when you dive into engagement data for a particular contact that it becomes hugely powerful.

Doing a deeper dive

You can monitor when a contact hasn’t opened any communications for several months. You can even trigger alerts that notify your team so they can reach out via another channel when this occurs – perhaps by phone? This is a circumstance which is specifically mentioned in the Consumer Duty proposal: ongoing monitoring of client engagement with communications triggering alerts if engagement uncharacteristically drops off.

Most importantly, a good platform will support you for all important ‘transactional’ communications, when it’s vital to update clients about a regulatory or structural change. Many platforms allow you to send transactional emails with the highest level of deliverability achievable (something you want to reserve for vital communications, not day-to-day newsletters and marketing), and again you can monitor to make sure your clients have received it.

As we move into the Consumer Duty age, what was already best practice implemented by many advice firms will become the standard for all. It’s worth taking stock of your current email marketing tools and practises and making sure they’re up to scratch.

Here are a few tools I’d recommend:

Active Campaign – this platform combines marketing automation, email marketing and customer relationship management automation, and is suitable for any business size. Its drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create beautifully designed newsletters. It also allows you to run detailed campaign and performance reports.

Prices start at $9 a month and are based on the number of contacts stored. So, if you have a large number of contacts or your generating leads quickly, you might end up paying more.

Sendinblue – like ActiveCampaign, Sendinblue also offers an all-in-one solution. It has slightly better transactional email features than Active Campaign. Users can also sign up to its academy to learn more about best practice.

Sendinblue is free to start with, and then you choose a plan based on the number of emails you want to send each month.

Mailjet – Mailjet is a slightly cheaper and simpler solution that offers some great email marketing features, but it’s not great at automations. Mailjet is free to start with, and like Sendinblue, the cost then depends on the volume of emails you’re sending.

Time for action

Hopefully that will help you to feel slightly more informed. If you’ve been thinking for a while about upgrading your email platform then now is the time to do it – it’ll not only prepare you for the Duty, it’ll benefit your business, your team, and make your client’s experience of your business’ service better too.

About Faith Liversedge

Faith Liversedge is an experienced communicator with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the adviser profession. She was Marketing Manager at Nucleus for 5 years, creating innovative and award-winning campaigns. Before that she worked for Standard Life, Prudential and Royal London. In 2017 she set up her own consultancy to help forward-thinking financial advisers and planners to become

more profitable through websites, communications and other laser-focused marketing techniques.

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