23rd February 2016

Improving outcomes for customers in vulnerable circumstances

Ensuring that customers in vulnerable circumstances are treated not only fairly but with empathy and sensitivity to their circumstances is a growing priority for the financial services industry. That is why the industry, together with charities and consumer groups, proactively joined forces last year to launch the very first Vulnerability Taskforce in order to look at how the experience and outcomes for customers in most need can be improved.

It is important to recognise that no two vulnerable customers are the same. Vulnerability is a dynamic state, which is affected by personal factors, life events and wider circumstances or relationships, including those between customers and their bank or other financial service providers.

The financial services industry has a duty to treat customers fairly across the board, including society’s most vulnerable. The Vulnerability Taskforce identifies specific policies and practices that can be improved through a joint effort by financial services firms, the industry as a whole, regulators and other bodies.

The industry is working hard to better serve those who need support but there is no room for complacency. It is not always easy to detect the signs of vulnerability, and people do not always feel comfortable talking about their personal circumstances. We hope however, that this Taskforce will find ways to improve the experience of people and families when they interact with the financial services sector at a time of need.

The contribution to this work from banks, trade associations, consumer groups and other sectors has been very positive. I look forward to seeing how the Taskforce recommendations will be taken forward by individual banks, building societies and the industry as a whole, so that the financial services can set the gold standard when it comes to dealing with customers in vulnerable circumstances.