A defining moment for the vulnerability agenda

Chris FitchThe Trust’s Vulnerability Lead Chris Fitch explores concerns over the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) proposed new definition of vulnerability.

Yesterday I was pleased to speak at the Financial Conduct Authority’s event on their Consumer Approach paper – and doubly pleased to be invited to speak twice, at two extremely useful breakout sessions on the regulator’s plans for vulnerable consumers.

In 10 years working with vulnerable consumers, I have never known a greater focus from the financial services industry on this issue. My latest research, co-authored with Colin Trend and Jamie Evans, showed the scale of improvement on mental health, in particular. The Money Advice Trust has now trained more than 11,000 staff in over 160 organisations – and demand for training on this broader range of circumstances, such as serious illness and addictions, is increasing all the time.

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Creditors can do more to support customers with addictions. Here’s how.

Addictions course image sized for BlogThe Trust’s Vulnerability Lead Chris Fitch, looks at the challenge of supporting customers with gambling, alcohol and substance addictions, and how the Trust’s new face-to-face training can help.

I have been talking to creditors about customers in vulnerable circumstances for the last 10 years – and the good news is that there has never been a greater focus on this agenda than there is now. The better news is that this focus is widening all the time.

As Joanna Elson argued on this blog in March, there was a time when vulnerability was synonymous with mental health, but there is ample evidence that this is changing, Creditors are increasingly looking at the full range other vulnerable circumstances – and gambling, alcohol and substance misuse is near the top of this list.

A quick dip into my latest research, co-authored with Colin Trend, shows why this is the case. More than one in four frontline creditor staff (27 percent) report they find it difficult to talk about addictions with customers – more than any other type of vulnerable situation. We found that staff are often confronted with little or no organisational policy to help them with this issue, and are particularly concerned over how customers will react.

That’s a problem – particularly when you consider that nearly one in ten frontline staff (8 percent) and more than one in four specialist staff (28 percent) encounter customers with an addiction ‘most days’ or ‘every day’.

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