The Financial Conduct Authority has warned regulated firms who ignore its upcoming Consumer Duty deadline to expect “swift action.”
The regulator’s new Consumer Duty will come into force from 31 July and will introduce new requirements for firms to avoid “foreseeable” harm to consumers.
In a speech at financial consultancy EY this morning, Sheldon Mills, FCA executive director of consumers and competition, warned that firms who ignore the Duty and those who pose the most harm can expect “swift” and “assertive” action.
He 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.”
Mr Mills also acknowledged the work undertaken by financial services firms to implement the Duty.
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.
“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.
“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.”
The regulator’s recent review of firms’ fair value assessment frameworks 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 set out 4 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.