Continuing its increasing focus on fair customer treatment and achieving good customer outcomes, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a consultation on a new Consumer Duty, which would set higher expectations for the standard of care that firms provide to consumers. The Consumer Duty would require firms to:
- ask themselves what outcomes consumers should be able to expect from their products and services;
- act to enable rather than hinder these outcomes; and
- assess the effectiveness of their actions.
The Consumer Duty is proposed as a package of measures: a new Consumer Principle that provides an overarching standard of conduct, supported by a set of Cross-cutting Rules and Four Outcomes that set clear expectations for firms’ cultures and behaviours. The FCA’s aim is to give firms more certainty about the standards expected of them and, correspondingly, the standards that consumers can expect of firms. Under the proposed Consumer Duty, firms would need to ensure that their products and services are fit for purpose and offer fair value, and that their communications and customer service enable consumers to make and act on well-informed decisions.
The FCA’s focus on preventing customer harm has come into sharp relief in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with broad thematic work taking place across the investments, insurance, mortgages and credit markets to ensure fair pricing and fair treatment of customers. The Consumer Duty proposals follow on from a number of recent pieces of work in this area, including among others finalised guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers, a discussion paper on strengthening financial promotion rules, and work on fair pricing in financial services. The proposals are also part of the FCA’s revised approach to regulation, underpinned by its internal transformation programme, which aims to clarify the regulatory outcomes that the FCA should achieve and ensure that the FCA has the internal capabilities to support delivering those outcomes.
In this alert we explore the FCA’s proposals, and what they mean for firms and senior management.
Click here to access the full alert.