With the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, more businesses are communicating with clients electronically. But what are your options when you need to supply or sign documents?
Financial professionals must give their clients certain documents, including:
These are usually given as hard copies or occasionally emailed. Now that remote working is the norm, companies need to deliver documents electronically.
Can disclosure documents be delivered electronically?
Yes, ASIC has provided guidance on giving disclosure documents electronically. The documents can be:
Do I need to get a client’s consent to deliver documents electronically?
Yes. Before you provide documents to customers electronically you must receive their consent. The only exception is if you use the ‘publish and notify’ method.
Customers can give express positive consent or consent can be reasonably inferred from the customer’s conduct. For example, if a customer gives you their email address when they supply their personal details.
What is the publish and notify method?
To reduce the administrative burden and lower the risk of non-compliance you can use the “publish and notify” method for disclosure documents. This involves publishing documents online and notifying your clients that they’re available.
You need to notify clients that you intend to provide documents electronically and give them 7 days to opt out. You should not send any disclosure documents electronically until the full 7 days have passed because otherwise you will be in breach of your disclosure obligations if someone opts out after the document is provided and before the 7 days has expired.
Once the 7 days has expired, you can notify clients that the disclosure is available digitally by:
The message should include:
Even if a client never accesses the disclosure, you will have provided the disclosure compliantly.
General principles to follow when sending disclosure documents electronically
Whether you email documents or links, or use the “publish and notify” method, you should follow these principles for disclosure documents:
You also need to ensure that your online systems and platforms are fully operational.
Can I also get signatures and give instructions electronically?
It’s not uncommon for documents to be emailed, printed, signed, scanned and emailed back. But not everyone has access to the necessary facilities. Being able to sign documents and give instructions electronically would be easier.
Documents can be ‘signed’ electronically provided that there is an effective method of:
This needs to be:
Some methods you can use include:
If you have questions about how you currently deliver your documents or you need advice on how to deliver your documents electronically, please contact us – we’re happy to help.