The deadline for implementing the Duty for closed products and services is fast approaching. It has been almost a year now since the Duty came into force for open products and services. The Consumer Duty has been and is a significant regulatory requirement for UK financial services firms and their day-to-day operations. Here are the key points to be aware of:

Implementation Deadline: 31st July 2024

Key Requirements

  1. Outcomes-Based Regulation: The Duty is outcomes-based, meaning firms must focus on delivering good outcomes for consumers. This includes ensuring products and services meet consumer needs, offer fair value, and provide appropriate support.
  2. Fair Value: Firms must ensure that the fees and charges associated with their products and services are fair and transparent. This includes considering the overall benefits and quality of the product or service.
  3. Consumer Understanding: Firms must provide clear and understandable communications to consumers, ensuring they can make informed decisions.
  4. Consumer Support: Adequate support must be provided to consumers, especially those in vulnerable circumstances.

 

Monitoring and Evidence

  1. Data and Technology: Firms are encouraged to use data and technology to monitor and evidence the outcomes they achieve for their customers.
  2. Annual Board Report: At least once a year, the board or equivalent governing body must review and approve an assessment of whether the firm is delivering good outcomes for its customers. This assessment should include monitoring results and any evidence of poor outcomes.

 

FCA’s Supervisory Approach

The FCA will take a proportionate approach to supervision and enforcement, prioritizing the most serious breaches and acting swiftly where there is evidence of harm or risk of harm to consumers. The FCA will work closely with the Financial Ombudsman Service and other regulatory bodies to ensure a joined-up approach to the Duty’s implementation and enforcement. The FCA has made it clear that they want to see firms making best efforts to comply, and that firms have a credible plan to identify and address any shortcomings in regard to the Duty.

 

Exemptions and Exceptions

The Duty does not apply retrospectively to past actions by firms. It will apply on a forward-looking basis to existing products and services. Regarding closed products, firms are not expected to consider the target market and distribution strategy. However, they must still ensure that these products do not lead to foreseeable harm or frustrate customers’ financial objectives.

 

Next Steps for Firms

  1. Review Implementation Plans: Firms should review their implementation plans to ensure they have made the necessary changes and that these changes are effective in delivering good consumer outcomes.
  2. Focus on Data and Monitoring: Firms should harness data to improve their products and services and to evidence the outcomes they are achieving for their customers.
  3. Prepare for Closed Products Deadline: Firms should start preparing for the 31 July 2024 deadline for closed products and services, prioritizing areas where there is the greatest risk of consumer harm.

 

Conclusion

The Consumer Duty represents a significant shift in regulatory expectations, focusing on delivering good outcomes for consumers. Firms must ensure they are compliant by the relevant deadlines and continuously monitor and improve their practices to meet the Duty’s requirements. The FCA has published comments related to Consumer Duty Implementation: Good Practice and Areas for Improvement. The FCA will be closely monitoring firms’ compliance and will act where necessary to protect consumers.

 

Take the next step

ComplyPortal offers the ability to tackle all 3 of the recommended next steps for firms.

  1. Review your implementation plans with our Consumer Duty Readiness Assessment & Consumer Duty Policies and Papers
  2. Focus on data making full use of our suite of modules to assist in Monitoring and Reporting, accompanied by our expertly crafted New Consumer Duty Questionnaire.
  3. The deadline is fast approaching so to be best prepared Book a Demo, to see how ComplyPortal can help you take your next steps toward compliance. Or alternatively click below to view our full range of services:

 

Sources

  1. FCA Speech: Consumer Duty – the art of the possible in a year (Delivered by Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition, February 2024) https://www.fca.org.uk/news/speeches/consumer-duty-art-possible-year
  2. FCA Speech: Countdown to the Consumer Duty (Delivered by Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition, on 10 May 2023 at EY) https://www.fca.org.uk/news/speeches/countdown-consumer-duty
  3. FCA Policy Statement PS22/9: A new Consumer Duty (Published in July 2022) https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/policy-statements/ps22-9-new-consumer-duty
  4. FCA Speech: Consumer Duty – Not once and done (Delivered by Nisha Arora, Director of Cross Cutting Policy and Strategy, on 1 November 2023 at Deloitte) https://www.fca.org.uk/news/speeches/consumer-duty-not-once-and-done
  5. FCA Speech: Consumer Duty (Delivered by Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition, on 11 June 2024)
  6. FCA Policy Statement PS23/6: Financial promotion rules for cryptoassets (Published in 2023) https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/policy-statements/ps23-6-financial-promotion-rules-cryptoassets
  7. FCA Dear CEO Newsletters – Closed products and services, https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/consumer-duty/resources