Members Only | 22/07/21

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Summit wholly dedicated to Vulnerability. It’s clear that vulnerability is high on the agenda for all of us, particularly with the potential debt tsunami which is threatening to arrive, but are we doing enough? To use a phrase used by one of the speakers at the event, “We need to understand more, care more and do more”.

Pre and post COVID, one thing that remains is the significant number of vulnerable consumers struggling to interact with financial services. The FCA Financial Lives Survey reports there are around 24m adults displaying characteristics of vulnerability; 45% of those with low financial resilience, that’s almost 11m UK adults.

The report goes on to quote that 57% of people with low capability about money and finances felt overwhelmed or stressed speaking to financial service providers. 16% of the same group felt they had fallen into debt which may have been avoidable, if they had better understood their options. These are some eye watering stats and hints towards the fact that more can, and should, be done.

The FCA gave a very clear message that we MUST all be able to demonstrate how we are giving vulnerable customers a fair outcome. Identifying needs, training teams and measuring capability, supported with ongoing monitoring and evaluation. It’s actually just good business practice when you think about it, and they’ll continue to hold us all to account and follow up with an evaluation in 2023/24.

Data sharing was another hot topic at the Summit, as there would be an obvious benefit to consumers – but only if we get it right. There’s a lot of work to do to iron out the practical challenges with a ‘single data source’, but one that certainly needs investigating more. Organisations should be looking into how they can work better with their partners and peers in the industry, to confidently and compliantly share data, to improve the overall experience of our customers.

Of course, it’s not only our customers who can be vulnerable and need our care – our colleagues are also at risk and need attention. As leaders, we need to share our lived experiences and ensure we’re creating open environments for our teams, to feel they can talk openly and share their circumstances, so we can help from the inside out too.

It’s important to empower our teams, and sharing these highlights should bring them to the forefront of our minds when designing processes, agreeing customer outcomes or talking to partners about the need to deliver exceptional outcomes for all customers – particularly those demonstrating signs of vulnerability.

Denise Crossley