In February 2021, the FCA published guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers with the aim of improving their customer experience.
Financial Lives research by the FCA shows that 27.7 million adults in the United Kingdom have characteristics of vulnerability. Although the project began in 2013, the finalised version of the guidance on treating customers fairly was published last month. The guidance was created to ensure equality for vulnerable customers.
The FCA emphasises that companies should recognise that fair treatment and outcomes for those with vulnerabilities should be the same as other customers. The guidance specifies that, in order to achieve this, companies must support their customers through the entire consumer journey. This should be done by ensuring that staff are trained in recognising what their consumers are likely to be vulnerable to and in understanding their needs. The FCA requires companies to monitor and evaluate whether this is achieved. It is possible that the FCA may be contacting companies to request information as to how they have adapted their business model and culture to ensure that all of their customers, including those with vulnerabilities, are treated fairly.
The FCA guidance will continue to hold firms accountable for mistreating vulnerable customers and it is therefore important that all businesses become familiar with the guidance and can demonstrate compliance. The FCA intends to review the impact of the guidance within 2-3 years to establish whether it is having a positive impact on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.
The FCA's finalised guidance can be found here