Whilst the pandemic has presented new challenges across the professional services sector, it is encouraging to see that so many firms are continuing to invest in long-term growth by appointing valued advisers to senior roles.

Any professionals celebrating a promotion will no doubt also be all too aware of the Peter Parker principle: with great power, comes great responsibility. Formerly mundane tasks will take on new significance. For instance, signing off on terms of engagement can be a serious undertaking with long-reaching consequences. Care must be taken to ensure that the scoping for works is accurate; and that any liability cap is commensurate with the value of the work.

Nowadays professional obligations go well beyond being able to "do the job", particularly as many regulators are taking an increasing interest in "off the clock" conduct and behaviour - including via social media. Tweeting about a great lockdown party could prove professionally fatal.

Responding to claims, complaints and regulators is all part of doing business, particularly in times of economic uncertainty, which generally leads to an uptick in claims and complaints (whether spurious or otherwise). All senior stakeholders therefore need to understand: (1) what risks their organisation might face; and (2) what is required of an individual professional in minimising or responding to those risks.

Reassuringly, most professional services firms will have relevant insurance cover in place, such as Professional Indemnity ("PI" or "Profin"), Errors & Omissions ("E&O"), Directors and Officers ("D&O") and/or Cyber Risk policies. All senior stakeholders should know the nature and extent of the insurance cover available to them and their business; and how the organisation (and its insurers) will deal with any issues that materialise.

Here are our top five questions for senior professionals to consider:

  1. What insurance arrangements are in place?
  2. What is your organisation's complaints process?
  3. Are any standard terms and conditions up to date and fit for purpose?
  4. Are you meeting your professional responsibilities, both at and away from work?
  5. Could your use of social media create any professional risks?

Alan Calvert and Alisdair Matheson are Partners in our professional indemnity team, advising professionals and their practices on risk management strategies, claims and regulatory complaints.