• Gordon McMurray

The magic of an accessible compliance manual

The dreaded compliance manual. All too often it’s tedious to write, tedious to read and tedious to search. However, it’s hugely important not only to have one, but for everyone in your firm to know it and to find it easy to find, refer to and follow.

To begin with, it’s a condition of FCA authorisation that you have a compliance manual to augment your procedures and controls, and you need to provide extracts from it when you apply.

Some firms prefer to have a short, rules-based manual supported by a raft of documented policies and procedures. If you choose this approach, you need a failsafe way of making sure each and every policy and procedure is in line with it… and with regular FCA rule changes… and that they’re all in line with each other… and that they stay that way.

An easier option is to have a comprehensive manual that’s easy to navigate and search. Yes, it will inevitably be longer. But does length really matter given it’s generally used to dip in and out of rather than as a regular end-to-end read?

A comprehensive manual – provided it’s written in concise, plain language – has a number of advantages. It’s a great source of reference. It’s easier (and less daunting) to read and understand than a list of rules and regulations. It can double up as a training tool. And it’s much easier to keep one document (rather than a mass of them) up to date and in line with the FCA rules and rule changes.

If you don’t want – or don’t have the resource – to write your own manual, you can download one from us at ComplianceWizard. We take pride in trying to produce the most reader-friendly compliance material you’ll find.

Our manuals are in Word format, so they’re full editable. This means you can tailor them and add in your company-specific information. For example, your permissions, approved persons and controlled functions. Simply select the quarterly updating option as well as your chosen manual, and we'll maintain it for you to reflect the FCA Handbook rule changes.

So much for content. What about making it easy to find and search? Distributing printed documents can be dangerous because they go out of date so quickly. It’s better to keep your current version online, in a shared space that all your people have access to, and in a searchable format like Word.

Better still, a touch of wizardry is all that’s needed to produce your manual in webhelp (HTML) format for your intranet, making your searching as easy as googling. And making your manual accessible in both senses of the word.