New guidance to help firms do more for vulnerable consumers
The FCA has set out new best practice guidance for firms to do more to protect vulnerable consumers.
More than 24 million people display one or more potential characteristics of vulnerability – which include physical and mental health issues, recent life events such as bereavement, capability and financial resilience. Over a million people received debt advice last year.
The FCA says firms should do more to ensure that vulnerable consumers are receiving positive outcomes.
The FCA found many examples of good practice and firms thinking carefully about their customers and potential vulnerability. However, the FCA is also aware of cases where vulnerability is either not considered by firms or, is positively exploited for gain.
The guidance aims to provide a framework that allows all firms to accurately assess whether they are treating vulnerable consumers fairly, ensuring consistency across the financial services sector.
Alongside the draft guidance the FCA has also published research on vulnerable consumers’ experiences of dealing with financial services firms.
The research, which includes 21 in-depth case studies of consumers displaying a range of indicators of vulnerability, highlights four key themes for firms:
- Recognising vulnerability and understanding customers’ needs
- The value of sympathy
- The importance of empowered and knowledgeable staff
- Meeting vulnerable consumers’ communication needs
The guidance is open for consultation until 30 September 2020.