2nd June 2017

A little help from friends and family

Written by Iris Kapelouzou, Retail Policy Adviser

Banks are committed to improving access for customers in vulnerable circumstances and approved third parties, such as friends and family that might be helping them manage their finances.

Eight of the UK’s biggest high street banks and building societies have agreed to implement a new set of Principles  under Vulnerability Taskforce Principle 5 – ‘Easy for friends and family to support’ – designed to help improve customer experience and outcomes for these individuals.

The Principles include improvements to registration processes and changes and changes to processes around the registration and use of legal instruments that can be used to enable third party access in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; such as Power of Attorney, Court of Protection Orders to Appointees and Guardianship Orders.

Customers and third parties will benefit from greater clarity and transparency of information about options that are available; greater consistency in the documents required to register Powers of Attorney and other legal instruments; access through more channels such as telephone and post, improvements to third party servicing and transacting; and reduced need to notify different parts of the bank.

Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Capital One, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide Building Society, Natwest, RBS and Santander UK have signed up to the Principles, with the majority of participating institutions aim to fully implement these changes by May 2018.

As part of the industry’s wider commitment to provide the best possible service for those who may need to let a third party access their accounts or information about their accounts, banks are keen to understand how they can enhance their service. The industry will actively seek for continuous improvements to policies, systems and channel offerings.

Building from current industry practice, feedback from the BBA’s Consumer Panel and other consumer organisations, the BBA’s working group on vulnerability is exploring what an industry wide framework for a third party mandate might look like and under what circumstances it could be applied.

This could support friends and family when there is a need to assist or reach out to the bank for help during emergencies such as hospitalisation or other short term situations of need – all those unplanned circumstances, which might require the assistance of a trusted party to help in paying the bills.

There are further plans for the BBA to engage with the Office of the Public Guardian, DWP and respective bodies in Scotland and NI, to better understand how referrals can work in cases of suspicion of abuse as well as what might be some of the indicators of such abuse.

For more information on the Principles or banks’ work to help customers in vulnerable circumstances contact Iris Kapelouzou iris.kapelouzou@bba.org.uk.

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