Community Shares Standard Mark

The Community Shares Standards Mark is awarded to societies whose share offers meet national standards of good practice. It has been developed by the Community Shares Unit, a government-funded body that promotes community shares. Unlike public share offers in companies, which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, community shares are exempt from regulation. This makes it simpler and cheaper for a society to make a community share offer. But it also means there is no protection for people buying community shares and falling victim to scams or unfair offers. Investors have no right of complaint to the Financial Ombudsman and the money invested in community shares is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The Standard Mark is a voluntary scheme. Societies do not have to apply for the Mark, especially if they are a small society raising less than £50,000 through a community share offer. The Standard Mark does several things:

  • It provides a quick and easy way to check that the community share offer is genuine
  • It means that the share offer has been reviewed by professionals and meets national standards of good practice
  • It gives the investor the right to complain to the Community Shares Unit, who will look into matters and decide how any problems should be addressed. (Because the Standard Mark is voluntary, their powers are limited, but the CSU will compare any queried share offer to good practice, and decide if the society needs to change what it is doing)