Celebrating another year of partnership with Propertymark
We are thrilled to announce that Smart Compliance and Propertymark are once again joining forces for another year of collaboration. As an Industry Supplier for Propertymark, this partnership signifies our joint commitment to providing invaluable support and guidance to estate agents navigating the complex landscape of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance. Last year, our webinar was a fantastic success, offering estate agents assistance in preparing for an HMRC audit and answering many AML questions that the guidelines do not cover. We are planning two more webinars in 2024, in addition to supporting Propertymark at their conferences.
Propertymark’s Perspective on the Collaboration
Jason Lee, Head of Commercial at Propertymark comments, “Forging key working relationships that both complement each other, and drive key strategic objectives forward is an essential aim for the Propertymark team. It’s fantastic to partner with Smart Compliance, as legislation and industry best practice becomes ever more complex. We are very much looking forward to working closely across the next twelve months to help ensure the property industry has comprehensive access to concise and structured information essential for their success.”
Spotlight on 2024 Events
One of the standout events on our calendar this year is Propertymark One, scheduled to take place at the ExCeL on 14th June. We are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at this event and look forward to meeting agents and assisting them with any AML questions they may have. Additionally, we look forward to the regionals that are taking place across the country. So far, we have confirmed our support at events in Exeter, West Midlands, West Country, Northeast, South Coast, and Yorkshire. If you are planning to attend, please do drop by our stand and meet the team.
Commercial Director’s Take on the Partnership
Amy Shields, Commercial Director, attended the conferences last year and reflects, “Aligning with Propertymark was an easy decision because of their commitment to supporting agents with compliance. The agents we meet at the conferences are always keen to learn more about how we can support them with AML compliance and are committed to doing all they can to adhere to the guidelines. I also really enjoy the speakers and the additional insights they provide, which truly add value to being an Industry Supplier.”
Commitment to Empowering Estate Agents
As we embark on another year of partnership, Smart Compliance and Propertymark are dedicated to empowering estate agents and ensuring they have the resources and assistance required to meet AML requirements. Navigating the intricacies of AML compliance is a shared endeavour. We understand the challenges that estate agents face in meeting their responsibilities. Through our collaboration with Propertymark our aim is to provide practical guidance and offer a clear path to effective compliance through webinars and at their events.
Smart Compliance Celebrates the Well-Deserved Promotions of Two Key Leaders
In an exciting development at Smart Compliance, we are thrilled to announce the well-deserved promotions of two individuals who have been pivotal in our journey: the promotion of William Sendall to Operations Director and Rachel Searley to Membership Director.
William Sendall: A Journey from Compliance Manager to Operations Director
William’s career at Smart Compliance has been a remarkable journey of growth and expertise. Since joining our parent company, Lifetime Legal, in October 2015, he has shown a consistent trajectory of professional development. Starting as a Member Services and Compliance Manager, William has become a pivotal figure within the company. His promotion in January 2020 to Head of Regulated Services was a testament not only to his proficiency in anti-money laundering and legal compliance but also to his exceptional leadership skills. His international advanced certificate in anti-money laundering is just one of the many qualities that make him stand out. Under his guidance, the team has excelled in ensuring our clients’ AML compliance. His promotion to Operations Director is a natural progression, recognising his vast experience and the value he brings to our team and services.
Rachel Searley: From Will Writing Executive to Membership Director
Rachel’s story is equally inspiring. Since joining the company in October 2016, her progression through the ranks has been nothing short of remarkable, reflecting her commitment and versatility. Initially serving as Head of Estate Planning, she later advanced to Head of Membership and Legal Operations. In her current role as Head of Operations, Rachel has been instrumental in steering the company’s day-to-day activities. Her educational background in criminology and criminal justice, combined with her advanced certification in will preparation, brings a unique perspective to Rachel’s work and a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape. Rachel’s promotion to Membership Director is a well-deserved recognition of her dedication and skill.
A Word from Our CEO – Rob Sendall
“Our company’s growth and success are a direct result of the dedication and expertise of our team. The promotions of William and Rachel are well-deserved and reflect their exceptional contributions to our company. They embody the spirit of innovation and commitment that we highly value at Smart Compliance. As we continue to grow, I am confident that their leadership will guide us to new heights of excellence.”
A Testament to Growth and Excellence
These promotions are more than just acknowledgements of William and Rachel’s individual achievements; they symbolise the commitment to leadership and excellence that is deeply ingrained in the culture of Smart Compliance. As we continue to grow, the expertise and direction of such individuals are invaluable, guiding our company towards further success and development. William and Rachel are shining examples of professional growth and commitment. Their promotions are a testament to their hard work and dedication – we wish them all the success in their new roles!
Thomas Morris’s Success Story: A Case Study on the Impact of Mover Protection
Estate agents are constantly seeking innovative ways to offer value and build trust with their clients. One such approach is offering Mover Protection, a benefit provided free of charge to buyers and sellers for a trial period after their AML checks with Smart Compliance. Our Commercial Director, Amy Shields, explored this innovative approach in a detailed conversation with Simon Bradbury, Managing Director at Thomas Morris, who shared his valuable insights and experiences.
Background on Mover Protection:
Mover Protection is a solution designed to provide peace of mind for both buyers and sellers in the often-unpredictable property market. This product is a key benefit included in the 3-month complimentary Lifetime Legal membership, which is gifted to clients upon the successful completion of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks with Smart Compliance. It provides financial protection by covering various costs, up to £2,570, including legal, marketing, estate agency, and survey fees, in the event of a property sale or purchase falling through no fault of the client. *
Offering Mover Protection as a follow-up to AML checks can differentiate an estate agency in a competitive market. This unique combination of legal compliance and financial protection can be a key selling point, attracting clients who value thoroughness and security in their property transactions.
Thomas Morris’s Journey with Smart Compliance
Thomas Morris has been at the forefront of embracing Smart Compliance, having utilised the service since the summer of 2022. Before this transition, their process involved conducting electronic AML checks and performing enhanced due diligence manually. Simon Bradbury recalls the initial apprehension among the staff regarding the idea of billing clients for AML checks. Nevertheless, following a shift in perspective and a phase of cultivating confidence, he acknowledges the change in approach: “Most people have no issues about paying for things upfront if they see proper value in it. And that’s the proper value.”
Successful Mover Protection Claims
Thomas Morris has recently seen nine Mover Protection submissions from their clients, with three of these claims, all from first-time buyers, being successfully processed. The total compensation has amounted to over £2,500, a considerable figure that has undoubtedly created a positive impact on those clients. Simon Bradbury considers the broader implications of this, noting not just the financial advantage for the clients but also the enhanced reputation it brings to Thomas Morris. He remarks, “Just think about those three first-time buyers. What will they think of Thomas Morris? Honestly, we are reflecting in your glory. There’s no PR that can buy an experience like that, where people receive hundreds of pounds back.” As of the current year, Smart Compliance has settled 88 percent of all Mover Protection claims. **
Leveraging Mover Protection as a Unique Selling Point
Simon Bradbury emphasises the importance of strategically positioning Mover Protection in their client presentation process. He highlights how Mover Protection is introduced during the fees section, tying it to the agency’s lower-than-average cancellation rates and transparent approach to legal requirements and fees. “We pride ourselves on being bold, straightforward, and transparent – qualities not typically expected from estate agents. This approach means a lot to us, and we believe it sets us apart. While other agents may not mention it, our Mover Protection product is a key differentiator. In today’s estate agency market, unique selling points are rare, but this is a service that, at present, none of our competitors offer. It represents excellent value.”
Conclusion: Mover Protection as a Key Differentiator
Mover Protection is more than just a financial safety net; it’s a testament to an estate agency’s dedication to client satisfaction and trust. As Simon Bradbury’s experience with Thomas Morris demonstrates, integrating Smart Compliance can significantly enhance an agency’s value proposition, setting a new standard in the property industry. As Simon Bradbury states, ‘They get a nice professional experience. They get their AML checks done, they get their Lifetime Legal membership with the Mover Protection, and their free standard or mirror Will if they want it. So, it just makes us guys look good’. Watch the full interview below:
* Following a complimentary 3-month period there is the option to continue membership for £7.99 per month with no tie-in.
**Refunds are made at the sole discretion of Lifetime Legal. Terms and Conditions apply.
Boosting Client Trust & Reputation:
The Power of AML Compliance in Estate Agency.
The reputation of estate agents and the trust of their clients are crucial to success. Clients entrust estate agents with one of their most valuable assets – their homes – and it’s this trust that drives repeat business and referrals. However, maintaining and enhancing that trust depends on operating with integrity, transparency and compliance.
Smart Compliance is the next level in anti-money laundering (AML) services, created especially for estate agencies. It’s not just an online ID check; it’s an end-to-end AML service designed to ensure estate agencies fully meet all regulatory requirements. Beyond just basic checks, Smart Compliance carries out full enhanced due diligence, recognising that over 60% of sellers’ cases need an extra layer of investigation. With the support of our dedicated legal compliance advisors, we ensure that agencies are aligned with the latest regulations. This not only streamlines compliance processes but also significantly reduces the chances of errors. We are the UK’s only provider with an HMRC AML compliance guarantee. By reducing risk, we offer peace of mind, setting us apart from others.
By delegating AML responsibilities to Smart Compliance, agents can ensure thoroughness in compliance whilst freeing up more time for essential business activities, such as nurturing client relationships. By offloading tasks like data collection and document retrieval to Smart Compliance, the AML burden is significantly reduced. Enhanced due diligence involves investigations and documentation to satisfy regulations – this is the part that no technology can handle, but it’s what we do for you. All the paperwork is compiled into a compliance pack for the sale or purchase.
Improved Accuracy and Better Risk Management
Our team of experts is committed to delivering the highest level of service to support our clients, greatly reducing the risk of errors. In the property sector, even a small mistake can have significant consequences. By ensuring accuracy in compliance processes, estate agents can build trust with their clients and maintain a strong reputation. Additionally, should HMRC issue a fine due to an oversight on our part, we’ll cover the cost. You’ll have assurance knowing that your business is complying with HMRC guidance and AML regulations, allowing you to nurture client loyalty through superior service and reliability.
We guide your clients through the AML process while ensuring you are kept in the loop, handling all the AML checks that technology is needed for, but more importantly the parts that technology can’t handle. This is all delivered with a personalised, customer-focused approach. Standing out as an agent can often be challenging. Demonstrating legal requirements and compliance can bolster confidence in your professionalism and expertise as a local agent. This approach may gain you more trust, especially if other agents have overlooked or downplayed its importance – underscoring the fact that you prioritise your clients’ protection.
John Brewer MNAEA from Move Property Sales & Lettings, a client of Smart Compliance, shares: ‘Smart Compliance is an integral part of our business, positioning us as a leading professional agency. Our commitment to compliance not only highlights our professionalism but also reinforces our promise to protect our buyers and sellers, resulting in enhanced client loyalty and an increase in word-of-mouth recommendations.’ He adds, ‘Initially, I was apprehensive about implementing charges for this service. However, I have not had any report of vendors or buyers having an issue with the fee. In fact, they perceive the Movers Protection as fantastic value. Without hesitation, I would recommend Smart Compliance to any agency.’
In conclusion, estate agents looking to enhance client trust and uphold a strong reputation, integrating Smart Compliance is an obvious choice. By utilising the end-to-end AML service, estate agents can streamline their compliance procedures, ensure accuracy, and mitigate potential risks. Smart Compliance not only ensures you meet regulations but serves to strengthen client confidence and solidify your reputation.
Smart Compliance Secures Best Supplier at the RAN Awards
Smart Compliance has been honoured with the Best Supplier Award at the RAN Awards, which took place on the evening of the 6th November. The awards, hosted by industry notables Simon Whale, David Mintz, and Richard Durrant, buzzed with an infectious energy. Amy Shields and Will Sendall, representing Smart Compliance, were met with rousing applause as they took to the stage—a testament to the strong bonds and mutual respect within the RAN network.
Smart Compliance’s journey with RAN members has been one of mutual growth and support. By assisting them with their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) obligations, Smart Compliance has enabled members to streamline their processes, freeing up valuable time and resources, and even creating opportunities for additional revenue.
Amy Shields, Commercial Director, shared her thoughts on the award win: “I can’t express how thankful we are to the RAN members for backing us. Winning the Best Supplier Award really shows that what we’re doing resonates with them. It’s more than just an award for us; it’s a big thumbs-up for the hard work our team puts in every day. Our clients are the reason we push the boundaries and why we love what we do. Here’s to continuing our journey together and to even more success for all RAN members!”
The award, voted for by the members themselves, is a significant endorsement for Smart Compliance. It reflects the industry’s acknowledgment of the company’s pivotal role as a support system for estate agencies navigating the complexities of AML compliance. As we celebrate this achievement, we are already looking to the future. This award reinforces our commitment to the RAN members and the property sector at large.
If your estate agency is looking to enhance its AML processes, we invite you to learn more about Smart Compliance. Click the link below to book a call and discover how our award-winning services can benefit your business.
As agents become increasingly vigilant about Anti-Money Laundering regulations and engage third parties for compliance checks, frequently asked question arises: Is it OK to charge clients for AML?
Like other business functions, AML compliance incurs costs from technology, staff training, and operations like document verification and checks. Given this, it’s understandable that many agents might choose to pass these expenses onto clients.
Those partnering with Smart Compliance and introducing AML charges vouched for the ease of its implementation, facing no resistance from buyers or sellers. Listen to their experiences in the video below.
Sharp Rise in AML Charges:
Over Half of Agents Now Charge Purchasers, Smart Compliance Data Reveals
As agents grow increasingly vigilant of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations and turn to third parties to carry out AML checks, a frequently asked question arises: Is It OK to charge your clients for AML? A February 2023 Estate Agency Today article highlighted that 28% of agents were contemplating or already implementing such charges. Seven months later, Smart Compliance reports an upward shift: 52% of their partnered agents charge both buyers and sellers, while 55% charge only purchasers.
Like any other business process, AML compliance comes with its own set of costs, whether managed internally or outsourced to an AML specialist. These can include technology expenses, investment in staff training to remain up to date with regulations, and operational costs associated with hours spent chasing documents, carrying out checks, and reviewing compliance packs. Given these costs, it’s not surprising that agents feel it’s OK to pass on this expense to clients, especially if it ensures an efficient and compliant property transaction.
Clients of Smart Compliance who’ve started charging for AML have vouched for the ease of its implementation, without any pushback from their buyers and sellers. The agents surveyed likened the process of charging for AML services to that of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – it’s a legal requirement. Just as clients pay for an EPC when selling or renting their property, understanding its importance and legal necessity, they can be advised about the importance of AML services in a similar way.
Amy Shields, the Commercial Director at Smart Compliance, and a former branch manager, emphasises the strain of compliance costs on agents. She states, ” Agents can’t continue to cover every compliance cost. I view these expenses similarly to an EPC – it’s a legal requirement. Many agents we speak to are trying to cut or minimise costs related to their suppliers and ‘tech stack’ due to market changes. I love being able to help clients stay compliant without any additional business costs.”
Tips for Making the Change
For agents considering charging their clients for AML, here are some tips:
Be Transparent & Informative: Confidently explain the reason behind the charge, emphasising AML compliance as a legal necessity. Provide straightforward explanations on your website and in your agency terms to ensure complete transparency with both sellers and buyers.
Outline Requirements Early On: It’s always good to set expectations at the beginning of a transaction. This can be done by detailing the AML requirements and charges at the start of the client relationship.
Include Information on All Marketing and Correspondence: From valuation documents to online property listings, make sure AML charges are thoroughly documented. Incorporate marketing materials in valuation packs and distribute them during viewings to inform about your company’s compliance procedures.
Highlight the Benefits of Smart Compliance:
Using Smart Compliance? Highlight its unique client benefits. These include a complimentary 3-month Lifetime Legal membership, which includes: a standard or mirror Will, expert legal advice, and Mover Protection – allowing clients to potentially reclaim up to £2570 should their sale or purchase fall through due to no fault of theirs*.
In conclusion, introducing a new charge can initially seem challenging. However, as agents have discovered, it often just a case of a change in mindset and, much like discussing fees, having confidence in your professional service. Agents’ experiences show that with the right approach, clients not only understand but also appreciate the necessity of paying for AML services. Discussing AML isn’t about selling; it’s about informing and advising.
*t’s and C’s Apply
Smart Compliance Welcomes Senior Customer Success Manager, Melanie Smith: From Client to Team Member
Smart Compliance Welcomes Senior Customer Success Manager, Melanie Smith:
From Client to Team Member
Smart Compliance is delighted to welcome Melanie Smith as the latest addition to our team, stepping into the role of Senior Customer Success Manager. Mel is no stranger to the property and compliance sectors, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the business.
Before venturing into the property sector, Mel occupied leadership roles in both retail management and insurance. She started her property journey in 2006 with Spicerhaart, where she served as the Head of Customer Relations until 2018. In the following year, she transitioned strategically to the LSL group of estate agents, assuming the role of Head of Compliance and managing regulatory matters for LSLi’s eight brands as well as Marsh & Parsons. During this period, Mel secured an ICA qualification in AML Practical Customer Due Diligence, enhancing her regulatory expertise.
Our relationship with Mel isn’t a recent one. When she was with LSL, Mel was a client of Smart Compliance. It was during this period that she grew familiar with our diligent approach to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. Reflecting upon her appointment, Mel stated, “For me, understanding AML is crucial given its technical nature, and I found a shared vision with Smart Compliance. With my previous company taking a stringent stand on AML, Smart Compliance’s equally meticulous approach stood out to me. So, when an opportunity presented itself to join, I didn’t hesitate.”
Rob Sendall, CEO of Smart Compliance, welcomes Mel: “With her rich experience in the regulatory, call centre, and property industries, Mel really is the perfect fit. Her new role tasks her with overseeing the technical side of our operations. Given her track record, we’re confident in Mel’s ability to bring new perspectives and strategies to the table.”
Mover Protection Refund Guidelines
With the benefits of Mover Protection, if your house sale or purchase fails for reasons beyond your control, you may be eligible for a refund of certain costs incurred.
Mover Protection only covers the first property named on your mortgage application. To request a refund, you should contact Lifetime Legal on: 0344 880 2087
- You will be sent a Mover Protection refund form and required to provide details of the circumstances and copies of receipts, or receipted invoices, for each individual fee
- Costs that may be refunded include legal fees, marketing fees, estate agency fees, survey and search fees. Other costs may also be considered
- The maximum that may be refunded is £720 for a house sale, £1,850 for a house purchase, or £2,570 for both (inc. VAT), subject to item limits shown on the back page
- Refunds are made at the sole discretion of Lifetime Legal
Below are examples of the most common circumstances for a Mover Protection refund of failed transaction costs.
Common Reasons For A Mover Protection Refund
If you are buying and…
- The property is withdrawn from sale by the vendor due to reasons beyond your control;
- The vendor receives and accepts an offer from a prospective buyer, which is a minimum of £5,000 greater than the offer they previously accepted from you and you are not prepared to increase your offer;
- The mortgage lender’s survey or valuation on the property identifies that rectification work needs to be carried out, the cost of which exceeds 5% of the sum originally offered or values the property at less than 90% of the sum offered for the property and which has been accepted and you decide not to proceed;
- The mortgage lender insists on a secondary survey such as damp and timber or electrical survey and the mortgage lender insists on additional rectification work being carried out to the property, the cost of which exceeds 10% of the agreed asking price and you decide not to proceed;
- The vendor is not legally entitled to sell the property or to transfer interest in the property to you;
- A survey or valuation is carried out and highlights that the property has been underpinned or shows signs of subsidence and you decide not to proceed with the purchase or the lender will not lend;
- A Local Authority search highlights that the property is the subject of a compulsory purchase order, in a flood plain, on contaminated land or over a mining area;
- A search highlights the fact that there is a defect in the title and this cannot be rectified and you decide not to proceed with the purchase or the lender will not lend;
- You or a member of your immediate family dies or contracts a critical illness, sustains a serious injury, is given notice of redundancy or relocation and you decide not to proceed;
…then Mover Protection may refund your purchase costs up to £1,850.00
If you are selling and…
- The property remains on the market 12 months after the date it was first listed, having been continuously listed throughout the 12 month period (apart from any period where the property was temporarily removed from the market as a result of an offer being accepted and subsequently withdrawn in which case the property must have been returned to the market within 14 days of the sale falling through), as long as:
– You have not received and rejected two or more offers of at least 95% of the asking price during the 12 month period of continuous marketing;
– You have not refused advice from your estate agent to reduce your asking price during the 12 month period of continuous marketing;
- A Purchaser’s survey on the property identifies that rectification work needs to be carried out, the cost of which exceeds 5% of the asking price and without the completion of which no other Purchaser can be found within 12 months of the date the property was first placed on the market;
- Without your prior knowledge a survey or valuation which is carried out highlights that the property has been underpinned or shows signs of subsidence and as a result the market value of the property is reduced by at least 10% and you withdraw the property from the market;
- Without your prior knowledge a Local Authority search which is carried out highlights that the property is the subject of a compulsory purchase order, in a flood plain, on contaminated land or over a mining area and as a result the market value of the property is reduced by at least 10% and you withdraw the property from the market;
- Without your prior knowledge a search highlights the fact that there is a defect in the title and this cannot be rectified and as a result the market value of the property is reduced by at least 10% and you withdraw the property from the market;
- You or a member of your immediate family dies or contracts a critical illness, sustains a serious injury, is given notice of redundancy or relocation and you decide not to proceed;
…then Mover Protection may refund your sale costs up to £720.00
How Mover Protection Has Helped Our Customers
Just after their full survey, Mr and Mrs K were shocked when their purchase property was withdrawn from sale by the vendor, leaving them £1,531 out of pocket. They realised they were covered by Mover Protection and we paid in full.
Mrs R claimed £498 when she and her partner were gazumped on a purchase by a third party. We paid in full.
The breakdown of refundable costs can be found in the table below:
Full terms and conditions at: www.lifetimelegal.co.uk
Download this handy guide for future reference.
Document Submission for Clients Opting Out of Credas
As an Estate Agent, you may come across clients who opt out of using Credas for their identity
verification process. In such cases, it is essential to know which documents are required to establish
their identity and comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. This guide will walk you
through the necessary steps and the documents you need to obtain from your clients in these
Proof of identity (photo ID)
For clients who opt out of Credas, you should request one of the following Photo ID documents:
• Driving Licence
Pooled documents for clients without photo ID
In cases where your client does not have an in-date or valid Photo ID, you should request one
document from each of the below sections, as outlined in the Joint Money Laundering Steering
Proof of address documents
For proof of address documents, it’s any of the documents in section 2.
Download this handy guide for future reference.