GC20/3: Guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers

Consultation closed: GC19/3
Open consultation: GC20/3
Consultation closed
Finalised Guidance
Q1 2021

We want to see vulnerable consumers treated fairly and consistently across financial services sectors. The draft guidance in this consultation is intended to bring about a practical shift in firm behaviour that enables this to happen.

Read GC20/3 (PDF)

Background to this consultation

Vulnerability continues to be an important part of our work. One of the key areas of focus in our 2020/21 Business Plan is ‘ensuring that the most vulnerable are protected’.

In July 2019, we published an initial consultation (GC 19/3) setting out our view of what our Principles for Businesses (the Principles) require of firms to treat vulnerable consumers fairly.

GC19/3 sought views on the aims and content of the draft guidance, the costs and benefits, whether the draft guidance was sufficient to ensure vulnerable consumers are treated fairly or if additional interventions were needed.

This guidance consultation discusses the feedback we received on GC19/3 and seeks views on our updated draft guidance and our cost benefit analysis (CBA).

Our analysis of responses to GC19/3 and updating of the guidance in response to comments took place before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We then put this second consultation on hold while we reprioritised our resources towards urgent interventions to reduce consumer harm. We have now decided to publish the consultation and draft guidance.

Who this applies to

This consultation will be of interest to:

  • all FCA-regulated firms to whom the Principles apply, and their appointed representatives
  • industry groups and trade bodies
  • consumer organisations and organisations that promote the interests of vulnerable consumers
  • consumers and consumer advisers

What we want to change 

We want to introduce guidance to help drive change by providing clarity and focusing firms’ attention on what they should do to comply with our Principles. We want to make sure the fair treatment of vulnerable consumers is properly embedded by firms in their culture, policies and processes. 
Any finalised guidance will support discussions between firms and supervisors about how firms treat vulnerable consumers. It will also help us hold firms to account if they breach the Principles.

Next steps

This consultation has now closed. Depending on responses to the consultation, we plan to finalise the guidance in Q1 2021.

See our short video on treating vulnerable consumers fairly, and read our research report on vulnerable consumers’ experiences of dealing with financial services firms.

Page updates

27/10/2020: Information changed Next steps updated following consultation closing