Consumer Duty three months on – how are firms coping? 

by | Nov 1, 2023

Share this article

Sharing his insight, Jonathan Barrett, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Comentis, explains why 31st July was just the start of the new Consumer Duty and how advice firms now need to adapt processes in line with the ongoing requirements. 

Consumer Duty, the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) initiative to protect vulnerable customers, has now been in place for three months. But how are firms coping? And what is the regulator expecting to see next? 

At Comentis, our most recent discussions with compliance experts across the industry suggest that while some firms are doing brilliantly, others are struggling, and a few haven’t even started. In many ways, this is a familiar story. During the months leading up to 31st July, this was very much the case with the industry’s preparation efforts for Consumer Duty. 

 
 

But with the Duty now here, there’s no time left to fall behind. The FCA expects all firms (no matter what size they are) to be on board and has made it clear that burying heads in the sand simply isn’t an option. 

What should firms be looking at? 

Prior to the arrival of Consumer Duty, it’s fair to say that very few firms conducted regular analysis of hard data on vulnerability. The reason for this was simple – very few actually had any. Those that are now doing well, therefore, have started to build up some of this valuable data. Three months in, there’s an opportunity for these firms to assess what they’ve gathered so far, take stock, and see if their target market assumptions are playing out as expected. They could also look – if vulnerability has been identified – how well that individual customer has actually been supported. With this knowledge, they can then determine whether their preparations were fit for purpose or if there are changes required. 

 
 

Getting a head start on this process is exactly how the firms that are already ahead will stay that way. The FCA is mandating an annual report on Consumer Duty but has advised not to wait until 31st July 2024 for firms to publish that outlook. The reason for this being that if any adjustments are required, a whole year won’t already have passed before those changes are implemented. With that in mind, if a firm already has a mandatory internal reporting date – perhaps at the end or the beginning of the year – it may be good practice to consider tying their Consumer Duty reporting into that. It’s not mandatory of course, but it would be good practice. 

Taking the regulations seriously Unbelievable as it might sound, there are still some firms who believe they can sidestep Consumer Duty. For evidence of this, look only to the fact that some firms have so far done nothing to prepare for it. They might think that being smaller means they’re safe. And while it may be true that the FCA will focus most of its attention on the largest players, the regulator has been very clear that there will be no exceptions made. 

To put it simply, anyone who believes Consumer Duty isn’t being monitored is sorely mistaken. And while we have yet to hear of the FCA hauling a firm over the coals, it’s sure to be only a matter of time before someone trips up and an example is made. 

 
 

What can we expect next? Three months in, everyone is progressing with Consumer Duty at different speeds – just as we saw before. For the most part, firms are well aware of the regulations and want to get it right. 

What’s clear, however, given the most recent guidance from the FCA, is the growing importance of data. The regulator is expecting firms to build their banks of vulnerability data, and that is where we’re starting to see a growing gap between those that are doing well and those that are falling behind. 

We’ve spoken before at Comentis about how the FCA never meant for the 31st July to be treated as a finish line. Instead, it was intended to be the firing of a starting pistol; marking the beginning of a broader conversation on vulnerability. And this is still very much the case. 

 
 

We now know what the next stage of this race looks like. To those who are already making progress – they should be commended. And to those who have yet to act or who are falling behind, don’t delay. It isn’t too late to get your data in order. 

About Jonathan Barrett

Jonathan is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Comentis, a clinical reg tech provider. 

 
 

Comentis was established in 2021 when its co-founders noticed a gap in the financial and legal services markets for digital tools to assess customer financial vulnerability and mental capacity. Its approach uniquely combines clinical and fintech expertise to deliver a SaaS Cognitive Assessment Engine which can identify at-risk customers across financial, legal and care sectors. 

Comentis aims to protect and support the vulnerable who would otherwise go unidentified or undetected. Its cost effective and inclusive technology has allowed clients such as Tenet Compliance Services and St. James’s Place to proactively identify at-risk customers and then refine their outreach accordingly.

Share this article

Related articles

Sign up to the IFA Magazine Newsletter

Trending articles

IFA Talk logo

IFA Talk is our flagship podcast, that fits perfectly into your busy life, bringing the latest insight, analysis, news and interviews to you, wherever you are.

IFA Talk Podcast - listen to the latest episode

x