FCA expectations about wet-ink signatures

Regulatory Updates | 20/04/20

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a new webpage that sets out its expectations of firms when dealing with the need for physical pen and paper (wet-ink) signatures in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The webpage focuses on two types of document:
• Agreements: The FCA states that its rules do not explicitly require wet-ink signatures in agreements. They state that the validity of electronic signatures is a matter of law and recommends that firms consider the legal position themselves as the FCA cannot give legal advice. The FCA advises firms to consider any related requirements set out in its Principles for Businesses and general rules. It also advises firms to consider the client’s best interests rule (COBS 2.1.1R) and the fair, clear and not misleading rule (COBS 4.2.1R) to ensure that, when a client signs a document electronically, this does not make it more difficult for the client to understand what they are agreeing to.
• Forms: The FCA refers to its recent decision to accept electronic signatures on applications to authorise funds or approve changes to funds from mutual societies. It confirms that firms may use electronic signatures for all interactions with the FCA.