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FCA warns of “swift action” as Consumer Duty deadline looms

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned there will be “swift action” for those that ignore its new Consumer Duty standards.

There are now fewer than 90 days until the July 31 deadline and the FCA is urging businesses to be ready.

In a speech, given today, Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Our supervisory and enforcement approach will be proportionate to the harm – or risk of harm – to consumers, with a sharp focus on outcomes.

“We will prioritise the most serious breaches and act swiftly and assertively where we find evidence of harm or risk of harm to consumers.

“In some cases, firms can expect us to take robust action, such as interventions or investigations, along with possible disciplinary sanctions.”

Mills also acknowledged the work undertaken by financial services firms to implement the duty and set out how it could boost the competitiveness of the sector.

He said: “Since we published our final rules and guidance in July last year, the financial services industry has worked with us to meet Parliament’s will to implement the new Consumer Duty.

“The 52 million financial services consumers in the UK rely on the sector to deliver good outcomes, and should be even better protected from harm, particularly in these challenging economic times.”

Mills said the Duty will help the UK financial services industry remain world-leading proponents of financial services, as firms have to think harder about innovating and competing to find better ways to serve customers.

He added: “If applied correctly by firms, the Consumer Duty should help firms retain and attract customers and will enhance the competitiveness of our financial services sector.

“The Duty will mean that consumers should receive communications they can understand, products and services that meet their needs and offer fair value, and they get the customer support they need, when they need it.”

Highlighting good practice

To further support firms, the FCA is sharing findings from its review of firms’ fair value assessment frameworks, which highlights good practice and areas for further consideration.

The review found that firms had carefully considered the FCA’s price and value requirements, but that some firms have more work to do to meet the rules.

The FCA has set out four key areas for firms to focus on which include collecting evidence that demonstrates products represent fair value and having clear oversight of actions to take if products do not provide fair value. 

The FCA said the current cost of living squeeze makes it “all the more vital consumers get fair value, and this should also benefit the competitiveness of the industry as firms strive to offer the best to compete for customers”.

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