The City regulator will continue to focus on protecting vulnerable consumers and ensuring they have access to affordable options in the coming years, a senior director has said.
Speaking to the House of Lords liaison committee on financial exclusion, Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said that the regulator will be looking to implement its vulnerability guidance.
This was published last month to set out how the FCA expects firms to treat vulnerable customers, following its Financial Lives survey that estimated 27.7 million Britons were financially vulnerable in October 2020, a 15 per cent increase since February 2020.
Mills added that the regulator has been working with Google to crack down on scam investments.
“We’re committed to ensuring there’s an appropriate level of consumer protection across financial services and we work closely with industry and government to do so,” said Mills.
“In the next one to three years we will focus on implementing our vulnerability guidance, which obliges firms to take account of vulnerable customers. It makes us in the next couple of months to think about how we respond to our duty of care and think about how we put forward in relation to our treating customers fairly approach.
“We’ll continue to look at consumer credit and think about how we can work with industry to ensure there are affordable options, especially during the Covid crisis and in addition to that we’ll be working very closely with industry on access to cash.
“I think the final point is tackling harm. I know scams are on the increase, we’ve seen that in relation to Covid and have limited powers to tackle those but we are working hard with some in the big tech industry such as Google to where we see scams both in pensions and consumer investments to try and get those taken down and we’re working hard to tackle those firms, certainly in the authorised space and unregulated space where there’s fraudulent activity, as quickly and as fast as we can with the resources that we have.”
The FCA’s protection of consumers has been in the spotlight of late, after a number of high-profile scandals relating to regulated investment firms such as London Capital & Finance.
The FCA has apologised to investors in the collapsed mini-bond provider, after an independent review found that the regulator did not supervise and regulate it effectively.