The Financial Services Consumer Panel today welcomed the publication by the Financial Conduct Authority of new research on consumer vulnerability. The FCA paper confirms that there is still significant room for improvement in the way that firms deal with vulnerable consumers.
These findings chime with the Consumer Panel’s 2012 paper on vulnerability, which called for firms to make a vulnerability assessment that goes beyond a customer’s personal characteristics or income, taking a wider view of their circumstances.
Every consumer can find themselves in a vulnerable position at some stage in their life, so it is important that firms and regulators work together to put in place inclusive policies to reduce the risk of potential harm as much as possible, even where a consumer may not immediately appear to be vulnerable. Such an approach would widen access to financial services for all consumers, and form an important part of restoring trust in the industry.
Sue Lewis, Consumer Panel Chair, said:
“Today’s FCA paper provides valuable insight into the way the treatment of vulnerable consumers in the financial services industry can fall short of what is needed.
We are pleased that the FCA recognises that “vulnerability” does not just apply to consumers on low incomes, or with particular disabilities, but can result from a range of factors. The flexibility needed to be more inclusive for vulnerable consumers should be lead to better treatment for everyone, as this really is about putting the needs of the customer first.”