From Vulnerable Customers to the New Consumer Duty – Unpicking the FCA’s expectations of payment and e-money institutions

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed its plans to bring in a new Consumer Duty, with the rules coming into force on 31 July 2023.

The Duty and the detailed guidance accompanying it spells significant changes for the regulated sector, including payment and e-money firms.

fscom’s Director and Head of Payments, Alison Donnelly comments,

“The vast majority of payment service businesses have been born out of a desire to fix a problem experienced by customers and so the best interests of consumers is already front and central to the firms’ approach. The new Consumer Duty requires firms to formalise their assessment, having considered how customers and prospective customers are impacted by their business, whether intentionally or unintentionally. For some, this will be a relatively straightforward process because they have been doing this all along so the data is to hand, for others there will be effort required to gather and analyse data and enhance product governance frameworks so that the evidence is captured at each stage.

The FCA is giving firms 12 months to implement the new rules, which is an extension on the earlier referenced deadline, and welcome recognition that a meaningful assessment takes time to do properly.”

There may be 12 months to implement the new rules however there is only weeks left to the initial deadline of 31 October 2022, to have a Board approved implementation plan in place to show the FCA, if requested.

Senior manager, Dane Pedro says:

“Firms need to start at the end and think about what they want customers to say about them. If your mum accessed these services, what would you want her experience to be? Once they have made their appraisal of their current state against their ideal state, they must develop an implementation plan for Board approval by 31 October.

And then the work begins; mapping, monitoring and getting buy-in from senior management and staff across the whole firm to set the right culture. When you think about areas of current focus – from ESG to diversity to operational resilience – they all relate to vulnerability. So, it’s critically important to start from the end and work back to see what is not right, and to fix it.”

In a recent webinar, which was recorded before the FCA announcement, experts from fscom, Fieldfisher and Comentis came together to identify the main trends and developments that payment and e-money firms should consider.

The speakers were:

This report dives deeper into the topics discussed at the webinar, and while focusing on the payments sector, it contains lessons for all regulated financial services firms. The report assesses the impact of the new Duty on how firms identify and protect customers in vulnerable circumstances and then outlines seven clear steps firms should follow to prepare to meet the demands of an increasingly active regulator.

Key Implementation Dates

  • 31 October 2022 – Firms are to agree Board approved implementation plans and be prepared to share these documents with the FCA upon request.
  • 31 July 2023 – Deadline for Consumer Duty rules to be implemented for new and existing products and services that remain on sale or open for renewal.
  • 31 July 2024 – Deadline for Consumer Duty rules to be implemented for closed products and services.

If you would like advice or assistance with thinking through the Duty, support to undertake a gap analysis and to develop implementation plans and/or validation of your Board report, get in touch with us today.

Article by fscom

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