Chris Fitch, Vulnerability Lead, Money Advice Trust
The FCA has settled on its definition of consumer vulnerability and the need for firms to ensure indicators of vulnerability are spotted and responded to in a considered manner remains an important focus. Firms are already making progress though.
From my work with companies in this area, most are taking steps to improve their knowledge, policies and practical responses to the challenges their staff face daily in identifying and supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances.
However, in a political and regulatory environment where ‘vulnerability’ remains a fluid concept, and where resources and commercial pressures always require prioritising some responses over others, what other steps should firms be taking?
In our most recent webinar with UK Finance, we considered the range of ways that different approaches to training can improve outcomes for customers in vulnerable situations. In doing this, we asked the audience:
What do you view as the biggest challenge of embedding effective vulnerability skills, knowledge and practice through training in your organisation?
The majority answered that their biggest challenge was ‘Knowledge of “what works” on vulnerability’ and ‘sustaining momentum/action after training’.
This is absolutely critical. As we all know, policy and organisational ambitions on vulnerability cannot be met unless three conditions are fulfilled:
- Staff have the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver these ambitions through training.
- These training initiatives tackle the actual challenges and tasks that staff encounter daily. ‘Awareness raising’ about vulnerability will not, in itself, deliver practical change.
- Alongside training, each firm’s wider environment has to facilitate staff taking effective actions on vulnerability by developing quality assurance, monitoring and compliance functions, data architecture and dashboards, and other functions on vulnerability.
This means that an effective response to vulnerability has to raise individual staff skills, knowledge and confidence, but also has to start to make parallel improvements in the strategic, policy, and information environments that these staff will be working in daily.
This is why UK Finance, in partnership with the Money Advice Trust, has set up the Vulnerability Academy to meet this challenge. Over the course of five face-to-face workshops, led by myself and Colin Trend, participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen to, question, and work with leading speakers and thinkers across sectors. Blended learning tools, such as podcasts (a deep-dive understanding of the issues explained via 20-30 minute interviews with experts, guests and Practitioners) and webinars (using voice, graphics and interactive features to engage learners and reinforce the key workshop messages) will also form part of the Vulnerability Academy curriculum.
The Academy is for people who want to gain the skills, knowledge, and relationships to address the most challenging issues and scenarios and meet regulatory requirements.
For firms of all sizes:
The challenge of ‘getting things done’ has always differed in organisations. However, the underpinning scenarios presented by customers and third-parties are common to all types of organisations.
This will work by bringing together different organisations to explore what is known, share what is being done differently/similarly, and together begin to answer the questions the industry is being posed in relation to vulnerability.
The Academy encourages participants to think about the broader areas of vulnerability that impact their customers daily. Understanding the practical challenges and solutions for your setting is important and now is the time to build upon the progress made by many firms already.
You can book your place via the webpage, here.