What’s in a name?

Quite a common question comes up when a regulated firm is about to launch a rebrand with a swish new name or add a trading style to its current legal identity.

What do we need to tell the FCA?

Firstly, a change in the legal title, for example, 'John Smith Insurance Brokers Ltd' changing to 'Best Manchester Insurance Brokers Ltd' needs not only amending at Companies House but also with the FCA via CONNECT.

If you are adding a trading style, then the same CONNECT process follows.

It's not so simple if you want to use certain words, as the FCA states that, “you need to get a view from the FCA and consent from the Secretary of State to use a business name containing certain sensitive words relating to financial services.” - https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/standing-data/sensitive-business-names

These are termed, 'Sensitive Business Names'. It is a fairly long list and I won’t repeat it here, but you can see the list by following the above link.

The reason for this requirement is so that your customer or potential customer can be sure as to the type of body they may be dealing with. Looking at the example at the start, if it were called “Best Manchester Insurance”, it is not clear what that firm does, so you need to add some more detail, such as the word Broker or Intermediary, for example.

Generally, as long as you include the additional wordings describing what you do, there should not be any issue.

Having said that, you may see some firms with a trading style which seems to be wrong perhaps just saying “Best Manchester Insurance” (to keep the consistent theme). It should be noted that any names registered with the FSA prior to October 2009 were not subject to the current stricter regime.

So, if you have one of these older names and want to add a new similar name, you will not be allowed to. You will have to add the extra words to get it approved, leaving you with two differing styles of trading name.

If you want to register such a name, follow the web link above and download an application form to email the FCA.

You should also let the Information Commissioner's Office know that you have added a new name, that can generally be done just by an email.

If you need any further information, please speak to your RWA Regional Business Manager.

About the author

Terence is the Chairman and Compliance Director at RWA. He has over 35 years' experience in the Financial Services environment, covering general insurance, investments and mortgages. Before joining RWA, Terence worked for a large PLC insurance brokerage in Manchester, overseeing some 20 acquisitions. He was made a Director of RWA in 2011 and has worked with insurance broking firms of all sizes across the UK. He has a particular interest in Financial Crime and the protecting the insurance broker. Terence is also Executive Chairman of the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants (APCC), the professional body for the compliance consultancy sector.

Terence Clark

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