A recent report estimated that 27.7m UK adults could be considered to be living in vulnerable circumstances, an increase of 15% in just a few months, with 2021 expected to show a further increase. This equates to 53% of the UK adult population – i.e., more than half.
A vulnerable customer is someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.
The FCA expects firms to demonstrate how they are ensuring vulnerable customers are treated fairly. This includes recording and monitoring to ensure the service provided to vulnerable customers is as good as those provided to other customers.
VinciWorks will soon be releasing a new course, Vulnerable Clients in Financial Services. The course teaches users what makes people vulnerable, what the signs and characteristics of vulnerability are in specific target markets and customer bases, and how to provide an appropriate level of care to vulnerable customers.
The Payment Services Regulations 2017 (the ‘Regulations’) apply to banks, building societies, card issuers, and other firms which provide payment services. These are the services set out in the Regulations and summarised on the FCA’s website, and include payment initiation services, account information services and services which allow cash to be paid into (or withdrawn from) payment accounts, amongst others. One of the requirements for firms governed by the Payment Services Regulations is to “provide to the FCA statistical data on fraud relating to different means of payment”.
What is the Senior Managers and Certification Regime? (SMCR)
The Senior Managers and Certification Regime is intended to strengthen market integrity and reduce harm to consumers by holding people to account. As discussed below, the number of financial service firms to which SMCR applies has been expanded in recent years. The aims of this expansion are to regulate individuals working in financial services by encouraging staff to take responsibility, and to make sure they understand where responsibility lies within their organisation.
Whilst it has applied to the banking sector since 2016, the number of firms governed by SMCR has expanded in recent years. As of late 2019, SMCR now applies to all solo-regulated firms (i.e. those regulated by just the FCA). For firms within the scope of the regime, the precise nature of the obligations that fall on individual members of staff vary according to the nature of their role.