Marketing and Compliance – a New Perspective

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

Stephen Gore discusses the brave new world of Treating customers fairly, and argues that the initiative should have positive benefits for companies with the right attitude.
The tensions between marketing and compliance are as old as the idea that businesses anxious to sell their products to the public should not be able to say and do anything they like to effect their sales.
Traditionally, marketing has tended to see itself as young dynamic and innovative, justifiably impatient with the pedantic attempts of compliance to impose boring dullness and conformity.
By contrast, compliance has seen itself as exercising a necessary restraining hand on the tendency of marketing towards exaggeration and hyperbole, possibly resulting in misleading of customers and poor publicity for the business. The result is a dialogue of the deaf.
These portrayals are of course caricatures, but anyone who has worked in compliance can probably point to instances of fraught meetings and telephone conversations in which they have been accused of adopting the most pessimistic interpretations that no competitors would dream of applying, and acting as a business prevention unit. On the other hand, anyone who has worked in marketing can probably point to instances of equally-fraught meetings and telephone conversations in which compliance has adopted an unjustifiably negative approach, and has unnecessarily deprived the firm of much-needed and profitable business.
Positive tensions
These tensions do not have to be entirely negative. Creative tensions can, if properly handled, enable each side to recognize each other’s perspective, and can dispel the atmosphere of confrontation – perhaps even remove the feeling of opposing “sides”. This does not mean that there will necessarily be agreement on all points, nor that one group will necessarily have to acknowledge defeat. Sometimes, such a frank discussion without rancour can enable a compromise to be reached that would not have been possible in a confrontational atmosphere.
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