Smarter Consumer Communications (the Discussion Paper), published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) encourages firms to consider innovative ways of engaging with consumers about their products and services. Proposals include the use of videos and infographics to present consumers with clear and easy to understand information.

Christopher Wollard, Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, suggested that customer communications are often too technical for the consumer and that developing the nature of communications is fundamental to successful engagement with consumers. Previously the FCA researched into what ways, which types and when consumers receive information. Building on this research, the FCA believes that it is essential that information is effectively communicated as it enables consumers to make informed decisions about products and services.

The FCA praises firms who are already engaging with customers. The Discussion Paper reiterates the FCA's expectation that firms understand and recognise the importance of communicating effectively, encourage the use of behaviourally informed creativity as applied to business development and create communications which will become integral to the products.

The Paper also indicates support for:

  • writing for the consumer first;
  • moving away from a box-ticking approach to communication design;
  • understanding customers' information needs;
  • testing communications among real consumers; and
  • adopting innovative techniques

The FCA also identified a number of behaviours which were limiting the development of effective communications such as:

  • firms adopting risk adverse approaches to communications;
  • prescriptive nature of EU and domestic legislation causes firms to produce jargon-filled and lengthy disclosures that firms can do little to improve;
  • the idea that the costs and operational challenges of changing existing communications outweighs the benefits; and
  • firms treating communication as second importance compared to the design of the product and service line.

Please click here to read the full paper.