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Protecting consumers in vulnerable situations is a priority for firms and regulators including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), as well as being central to wider legal frameworks.
In our eight cohort of the award-winning Vulnerability Academy, we will be bringing this to life across twelve sessions including an induction, interactive, practical and problem-solving online workshops (each split into two separate half-days to allow for participant reflection and development) and a graduation.
Created by Money Advice Trust’s Chris Fitch, Colin Trend and Ian Phillips, the academy is built around case studies and presentations from leading practitioners and firms across (and beyond) financial services and is supported by facilitated examination and the analysis of approaches already being taken in practice.
The academy also draws on a blend of exclusive video, audio, podcast and coursework review for participants with the aim of helping participants embed vulnerability throughout the culture, policies and relevant customer journeys of their organisations.
The finalised Guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers makes it clear that vulnerability remains at the very top of the FCA agenda. With cases of financial vulnerability continuing to increase as a result of the economic downturn, our Vulnerability Academy will ensure firms are prepared to meet the challenges posed to customers and colleagues.
The academy aims to support firms in delivering FG21/1, a collection of best practice around translating the FCAs expectations under principle 6 into reality.
THE FCA CONSUMER DUTY
Currently, the FCA is consulting on proposals for a new Consumer Duty including a new Consumer Principle requiring firms to “act to deliver good outcomes for retail clients”. A second consultation paper was published on 7 December 2021 to be followed by a short, final consultation that ended in February 2022. Final rules and guidance are expected by the end of July 2022, with a nine-month implementation period to follow.
Clearly, given that the FCA’s objective is for vulnerable consumers to achieve “outcomes that are as good as everyone else”, there is a significant relationship between the new Consumer Duty and the recent vulnerable consumer final guidance (FG 21/1). Our constantly evolving syllabus will continue to explicitly examine this relationship as the FCA’s expectations crystallise.
Many firms recognise the need to improve their knowledge, policies and practical responses to the challenges their colleagues face in identifying and supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances. However, in a political and regulatory environment where ‘vulnerability’ remains a fluid concept and where firm conduct, resources and commercial pressures are under scrutiny, firms need to plan and prioritise.
The refreshed FCA Guidance makes clear that to meet customer needs, firms should translate their understanding of the needs of their vulnerable customers into practical action. This is set out in three main stages of their interactions with consumers:
1. Firms should understand the needs of vulnerable consumers in their target market and customer base.2. Firms should also ensure that their staff have the skills and capability to address the needs of vulnerable consumers they have identified.3. Firms should translate their understanding of the needs of their vulnerable consumers into practical action in terms of how they:
- respond to customer needs throughout product design, flexible customer service provision and communications.
- monitor and assess whether they are meeting and responding to the needs of customers with characteristics of vulnerability, and make improvements where this is not happening.
This means that an effective response to vulnerability must also be led by and make parallel improvements to the strategic, policy, governance and information environments that these colleagues will be working in.
YOU CAN BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE
If you have any questions, please email the team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduates also enjoy lifetime membership of the Vulnerability Academy’s Alumni network, giving them access to a wealth of ongoing insight and exclusive events, as well as the support of a community of experts engaged in driving the same outcomes in their everyday roles.
With 100 graduates now having completed the programme, this network brings together our UK and international academy graduates from all cohorts to learn from each other as we deliver change, hear directly from thought leaders in the vulnerability space and see the impact of pilot projects from across sectors to support customers and benefit from a series of exclusive online and physical events.
Please contact us by email email@example.com for further information.
TAKE THIS TRAINING IN-HOUSE:
If you have five or more delegates who wish to attend these course, it may be more cost effective to run it in-company. To find out more about in-company training, please contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants will be invited to attend twelve online sessions over the course of five months including an induction, ten workshops and a graduation:
Download the full Vulnerability Academy Brochure here (PDF).
THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
These sessions are supplemented by interactive webinars, podcasts, plus e-learning, reading lists and downloadable resources.
The academy will require participants to build a personal ‘gap analysis’/critical appraisal of their organisation’s approach to vulnerability.
The aim of this ‘gap analysis’ portfolio is to allow participants to reflect on the specific challenges (and solutions) that they perceive in terms of addressing vulnerability within their own work, while being able to share more general challenges and issues that every single firm will encounter at some point.
Customer Vulnerability Expert, Money Advice Trust
Zoe Medlock is an expert in consumer vulnerability strategy and implementation. With over ten years’ experience in the sector, Zoe now works with the ...
Zoe Medlock is an expert in consumer vulnerability strategy and implementation. With over ten years’ experience in the sector, Zoe now works with the Money Advice Trust team to help firms improve their approach to customer vulnerability. This includes assessing firms against the FCA's evolving expectations and developing and delivering colleague training. Prior to joining the Money Advice Trust Team Zoe was most recently responsible for implementing Barclays’ vulnerability strategy.
Zoe specialises in mental health and, as well as working with the Money Advice Trust, she also supports the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to assess firms against their Mental Health Accessible Standard. In 2020 Zoe developed the Trust’s Mental Health training.
Lead Trainer, Money Advice Trust
Colin is the lead tutor with the Money Advice Trust on their vulnerability programme, assisting both in the UK and overseas. With Chris Fitch, he co-a...
Colin is the lead tutor with the Money Advice Trust on their vulnerability programme, assisting both in the UK and overseas. With Chris Fitch, he co-authored the Trust’s vulnerability guidance for advice agencies, launched by the charity with the backing of a range of organisations across the advice sector in June 2016.
Vulnerability Consultant, Money Advice Trust
Elizabeth is a Vulnerability Academy graduate and the principle policy manager at Citizens Advice where her main focus is delivering rigorous insight ...
Elizabeth is a Vulnerability Academy graduate and the principle policy manager at Citizens Advice where her main focus is delivering rigorous insight on retail market outcomes for consumers through monitoring industry performance. This work ensures that Citizens Advice can deliver leading research and advocacy on domestic and micro-business consumer experience to ensure appropriate regulation and policy in energy markets. Elizabeth worked on affordability challenges in the UK energy markets in industry, a regulator and as an academic researcher.
Vulnerability Lead Consultant, Money Advice Trust
He is Vulnerability Lead at the Money Advice Trust and a Research Fellow at the Personal Finance Research Centre, University of Bristol. Previously h...
He is Vulnerability Lead at the Money Advice Trust and a Research Fellow at the Personal Finance Research Centre, University of Bristol. Previously he was Head of Policy and Research Fellow at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The programme that Chris leads aims to result in outputs which are ‘short on the obvious, and long on the practical’ – and with colleagues, he has written practical guidance for firms and staff on both effectively working with customers who are in vulnerable situations, and also looking after their own wellbeing and working environment following such contact.
In 2017, Chris was named in Credit Strategy’s Top 50 influencers in the creditor sector, and in 2015 he received the Martin Williams award for contribution to the UK credit industry (awarded each year by Credit Today) for the programme’s work on mental health, vulnerability, and financial services.
The recommended participants should be colleagues responsible for development of their organisations strategy for supporting vulnerable customers, these include:
Who should attend:
• Business leaders (senior managers and desk heads)
• Risk and control decision makers
• Human resource and learning and development professionals
• Managers responsible or working in contact centres
• Specialist vulnerability colleagues
• Mortgage lenders
• Card issuers
• Credit unions
• Payment providers
• Any lending firm that is FCA regulated