Taking control of economic abuse - "6 moments that matter" for banks to support people

5.9 million people in the UK - 4.2 million of them women - report having experienced economic abuse from a partner or family member in their lifetime, with 1.3 million women prevented from having a savings account or access to a joint account.

Economic abuse destroys lives. Notwithstanding its inclusion in the Domestic Abuse Act (2021) and falling within the scope of the Financial Conduct Authority's vulnerable customer's guidance, which requires firms to ?recognise and respond? to ensure good outcomes for survivors, in general we all know very little about it.  

UK Finance's Code of Practice sets out six principles aimed at supporting awareness and survivor disclosure, colleague training to assist identification and survivor support and processes so that survivors do not have to repeat their story and can be helped towards regaining financial control.

Today in collaboration with Nicola Sharp-Jeffs and Surviving Economic Abuse, I am launching a review of the Economic Abuse Life Journey for Female Survivors.  It is based on ?6 Moments That Matter?, an approach I developed which analyses Risks in Life and their impact on people's Financial Life Journeys to pinpoint where individuals and organisations can take action - in this case to be aware of economic abuse and help survivors to take back financial control. 

The report makes practical suggestions for firms housed in a PEOPLE Framework. Everyone has a role in supporting survivors and putting an end to economic abuse. 

The work elaborates on the Code of Practice, and through analysing data, survivor experience and financial case studies it recommends a ?Person-led Approach for the Financial Services Sector in Empowering and Supporting Customers & Employees.?

This remains a developing area, with better insight needed to support everyone, and it recommends that organisations across the financial system work together to tackle economic abuse. The PEOPLE Framework helps consider how economic abuse affects your firm and your role:

  • Purpose and business strategy - What does your firm's purpose mean in the context of economic abuse?  How does economic abuse overlay onto your customer audiences and products, your people strategy and approach to Environmental Social and Governance?
  • Economic abuse principles - How have you embedded survivor-safety? Does the approach consider intersectional differences and life circumstances?  Is it collaborative and coordinated, mindful that survivors experience multiple vulnerabilities and product complexities such as mortgages and linked life insurance, pension abuse alongside divorce?
  • Openness and transparency - Are customers and staff aware of economic abuse policies and how to get help?
  • Policies, practices and processes - Is economic abuse considered within product and customer journey design?  How do employer references (e.g. mortgages) safeguard against economic abuse? Are survivors supported with employment/credit references? Are you considering joint product safeguards and digital identity innovations?    
  • Leadership and culture - For business leaders, how does economic abuse impact your function and are people aware and informed?
  • Engaging with customer and employee survivors - Does your approach to engagement respond in the 6 Moments That Matter? Read the Survivor Stories in the report to find out.

Register your details here to get the report.

Jane Portas is a former ?big four? financial services partner, author of The Risks in Life Report Series and creator of 6 Moments That Matter.


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