According to the regulator’s ‘Financial Lives’ research survey, 27.7 million adults in the UK now have characteristics of vulnerability such as poor health, experiencing negative life events, low financial resilience or low capability.
The new guidance looks to improve the way firms treat said customers so that they are consistently able to achieve outcomes which are “fair and equitable”.
Nisha Arora, the FCA’s director of Consumer and Retail Policy said: “Protecting vulnerable consumers remains a key focus for us and given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that firms get this right. The guidance being announced today will help ensure vulnerable consumers are treated fairly and achieve outcomes as good as other consumers.
“While some firms have made significant progress, we want to see all firms across sectors taking steps to understand and respond to the needs of their customers, particularly those who are most vulnerable to harm.”
She added: “We also remind customers to tell your providers if you have specific needs – whether that’s due to ill health making it difficult to access a service, or a recent emotional or financial shock that is impacting your finances. Doing this will help firms support you.”
Angus Goldie, PwC’s conduct partner, said: “The final guidance from the FCA brings some long-awaited clarity, but as this is guidance and not rules, some remaining ambiguity is inevitable and firms need to use their own judgment to determine how it applies to them.”