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COB 2.3.1 Guidance

1. When a Person becomes a Client of an Authorised Firm is a question of fact that needs to be addressed by the firm in light of the nature of the relevant Financial Service (or financial product) involved, and the relations and interactions which the firm has with that Person. For instance, in certain types of Financial Services (such as corporate advisory services), a number of conversations (such as marketing and promotional activities) may occur between an Authorised Firm and a potential client before it may appear to the firm on a reasonable basis that the Person is likely to obtain a Financial Service from the firm, at which point a client classification is required.
2. Given the many different circumstances in which interactions between a potential client and an Authorised Firm take place, it is not possible to include a more specific requirement than the current provision which requires the client classification to occur "before" a firm provides a Financial Service to a Person — see Rule 2.3.1(1). This provides an Authorised Firm flexibility to determine when exactly it would be appropriate for the firm to undertake client classification.
3. The DFSA expects Authorised Firms to adopt practices which are consistent with the underlying intent of the client classification provisions, which is to provide Clients an appropriate level of regulatory protection in light of the resources and expertise available to such Clients. Therefore, as soon as it is reasonably apparent that a potential customer is likely to obtain a Financial Service from the firm, it would need to undertake the client classification process relating to that customer (unless such a customer is classified as a Retail Client for the purposes of the Rules — see Rule 2.3.2).
4. For example, an Authorised Firmis not expected to undertake advising or arranging activities relating to a Financial Service or financial product which is suited to Professional Clients (such as complex derivatives) with a potential customer without having a reasonable basis to consider that such a customer has sufficient knowledge and experience relating to the relevant service or product. While a formal client classification may not be needed at the early stages of interaction with a potential customer, a firm is expected to form a reasonable view about the professional status of a potential customer when exposing such a customer to Financial Services or financial products (such as investments in a Qualified Investor Fund) which are intended for Professional Clients.
5. Rule 2.3.1(2) allows an Authorised Firm to classify a Client as a Retail Client in respect of some Financial Services and a Professional Client in respect of other Financial Services. For example, a Client classified as a 'service-based' Professional Client under Rule 2.3.5 for the Financial Service of Providing Credit may not necessarily meet the criteria to be classified as an 'assessed' Professional Client under Rule 2.3.7 or Rule 2.3.8 in respect of any other Financial Service to be provided to that Client. Therefore, such a Client would need to be classified as a Retail Client with respect to Financial Services other than Providing Credit.
Derived from DFSA RM149/2015 (Made 11th February 2015) [VER24/04-15]