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FCA launches guidance on vulnerable customers

The FCA has asked the industry for feedback on proposed new guidance for treating vulnerable customers fairly.

The regulator has published a series of potential guidelines this morning, including on how firms can get to understand vulnerable clients’ needs, ensure staff have the right skills to deal with them, and what practical steps they can take to improve how vulnerable customers are treated.

FCA strategy and competition director Christopher Woolard says the watchdog wants to see firms “explicitly embedding the fair treatment of vulnerable consumers into their culture.”

The regulator says it has discovered a lack of consistency across the financial services sector on vulnerable client treatment, and that, “in some cases, firms are clearly failing to consider the needs of vulnerable consumers, leading to harm.”

Woolard says: “Where we find that firms are not doing enough to ensure that consumers are treated fairly, we will take action.

“Firms need to take particular care to ensure that vulnerable consumers are treated fairly as they may be more likely to experience harm. The guidance should drive improvements across the industry, improving outcomes for millions of vulnerable consumers.”

The FCA is asking regulated firms to weigh in on whether they think the guidance covers the right issues, how much it might cost them to implement compared to the gains for vulnerable consumers, or whether additional rules might be needed to ensure firms treat vulnerable clients fairly.

It will then consult on a revised draft guidance with any potential interventions added into the mix.

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