FCA discussion paper calls on firms to deliver smarter, effective communications

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has kick-started a debate to encourage firms, consumer groups, and stakeholders to work together to deliver information to consumers in smarter and more effective ways.

The discussion paper, Smarter Consumer Communications, challenges firms to consider innovative ways of engaging and communicating with consumers about products and services, for example, by using videos, infographics or other new approaches to present information to consumers clearly and in a way that is easy to understand.

Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said:

"All too often customer communications are so technical that even the most astute consumer would struggle to understand the information. 

"Communications play a fundamental role in helping consumers make decisions about the products and services they buy which is why it’s so important that we work with firms to get this right."

The FCA’s thematic work and market studies have previously revealed that the type of information consumers receive, when they receive it and the way it is delivered can drive both poor and positive consumer outcomes. It is essential that information empowers consumers to make informed decisions about products and services.

Clear and engaging information also helps to promote competition and deliver products and services that consumers want.  Some firms are already developing new ways of engaging with customers and the FCA wants all firms to consider whether there is room for improvement in their own communications. Examples of smarter communications include:

  • Communications using plain language, short format, bullet points and clear graphics
  • Use of interactive apps to help consumers understand and manage their product
  • The use of infographics to explain complex information and concepts to consumers in an engaging way
  • Use of videos to help consumers engage with the essential terms and conditions of a product.

The FCA is seeking feedback on the discussion paper by 25 September 2015.

Notes to editors

  1. DP15/5: Smarter Consumer Communications
  2. Oxera research: Review of literature on product disclosure
  3. On the 1 April 2013 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
  4. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  5. Find out more information about the FCA.