Allow us to use some capital letters appropriately:
NEVER BACK DATE A DOCUMENT
At best, back dating is dishonest. At worst, it is fraudulent. Either way, it is best to be avoided.
In terms of an SOA, the temptation to back date will most likely arise where a client’s acceptance of an SOA has either not occurred or not been recorded. The adviser has proceeded to partially or even fully implement the advice, only to discover that there is no record that the client accepted the advice.
In other areas of financial advising, it is often to do with applications that the temptation to back date can arise.
Never do anything that you would not feel happy to explain to someone who does not like you – like a lawyer in a trial. If a mistake has been made, acknowledge that fact. Record that the mistake has been made and then rectify it. For example, if you have failed to gain a signature from a client, acknowledge that. Have them sign today (and date the document today as well), and then create a record explaining what has occurred. It will take some extra time (which is where the temptation simply to back date typically arises), but we promise you, if you ever wind up in Court you will be glad you did it this way.
Mistakes happen. Our experience is that people are generally quite forgiving of a genuine mistake. They may grumble or even make threats, but it will only be in unusual cases, or cases dealing with unusual personalities, that you face anything more serious.
History is full of examples where people made a mistake and then compounded that mistake with something far more serious: they tried to hide the mistake and they did so dishonestly. Often, it is the subsequent dishonesty that gets you into far more trouble than the original mistake was ever going to.
So, if and when things go wrong, stay calm and don’t backdate.
If something has gone wrong, then please let us know ASAP. We promise: we are here to help.