New governance by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has called for greater transparency on business transactions. All company operations need to appear financially appropriate to those with a vested interest which, in times of austerity, seems to be most of the general public. As a result, businesses have to think twice about the amount they spend on conferences, meetings and hospitality. Inevitably this area of expenditure is becoming the first victim of budgetary cuts.

Barclay’s has already placed worldwide restrictions on employees travelling to meetings. Aviva has gone as far as cancelling hospitality events for brokers. Is it now only a matter of time until increasingly more sectors incorporate similar rules and regulations to their business operations?

It is not surprising that such restrictions have been put in place by the FCA. After all, the media condemned the financial sector with a heavy sentence during the peak of the economic crisis and this legacy has not been forgotten. For the meetings industry this means that the new brief is as follows: if your client would be embarrassed or damaged by their event being splashed across the front page of the tabloids, then quite simply, no-one will go near it. The truth is that less is definitely more nowadays.

Whilst many in the conference and meetings industry will see the changing rules imposed by the FCA as a potential crisis, the reality is quite different. If your venue justifiably offers value for money, fully encompassing the new regulations, your existing clients will have no reason to take their business elsewhere. In fact, five-star hotels may be well placed in converting their meetings spaces into additional spa facilities and focusing on consumer travellers and bonus day bankers!

When ABPI established the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) 21 years ago, they placed harsh regulations on the spending practices of drugs companies. Despite this, Robinson College’s relationship with the medical and pharmaceutical industry has remained strong, with demand for meetings within this sector increasing by 7% on previous years. We see no need to be concerned about the FCA’s ruling, because we already meet the business needs for our clients completely in line with these new corporate guidelines.

If this is not the case for your business, perhaps now is a good time to ask yourself, why not?