Money and Mental Health responds to new FCA guidance on vulnerable customers
23 February 2020
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has welcomed new guidance published today by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), calling on firms to improve support for vulnerable customers, including those with mental health problems.
- In particular, the FCA’s guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers calls for firms to ensure that the needs of vulnerable customers are a key consideration in the design of products and services, and to make their communications more accessible and understandable.
- The FCA has also indicated that it will hold firms to account for their treatment of vulnerable customers, including asking firms to demonstrate how their business model and culture ensure fair treatment for all customers.
- Money and Mental Health also welcomes the FCA’s pledge to work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to identify and act on breaches of the Equality Act by financial services firms.
- A new Money and Mental Health survey also published today highlights the urgent need for banks to act. Out of over 140 people with mental health problems surveyed, 1 in 4 (26%) say their financial service providers have done a bad job of supporting them during lockdown (1).
Responding to the new FCA guidance, Conor D’Arcy, Head of Research and Policy at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:
“The FCA has today sent out a clear signal that financial firms need to step up the support they offer to vulnerable customers. With millions currently facing debt problems and distress due to the pandemic, there’s no time for banks to waste — we need action now to ensure everyone can access the financial services we all rely upon.
“In particular, firms should act urgently to make their communications more understandable and supportive for vulnerable customers, and to ensure that their needs are a top priority when designing products and services. That would make a huge difference to the many people with mental health problems who struggle to make telephone calls, open post or navigate complex online forms — and who are effectively locked out of financial services as a result.
“The FCA has set out the changes firms should make — now it’s time for firms to act, to ensure their services are inclusive for the millions of people struggling with poor mental health during the pandemic.”
Money and Mental Health is working with banks (and other essential services firms) to make their services more inclusive and accessible through Mental Health Accessible — a suite of consultancy programmes to help firms better understand and support customers with mental health problems. Conor D’Arcy said:
“We’re delighted that the FCA has called on firms to make their services more accessible and inclusive, especially for people with mental health problems, and we want to help firms do that through our Mental Health Accessible programme. Our first accreditation partnership with Lloyds Bank led to it making important changes to its services, to make them easier for customers with poor mental health to use. Now we want to partner with more banks to do the same.
“That will help firms ensure they are complying with the new FCA guidance. But more importantly, it will help firms put the voice of lived experience at the heart of service design, and will make a big difference to the many customers struggling with poor mental health during the pandemic.”
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Notes to Editors
- A survey of 141 people with lived experience of mental health problems, undertaken from 19-22 February 2020
About the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works. www.moneyandmentalhealth.org