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FCA prepares to wield the whip on Consumer Duty

FCA prepares to wield the whip on Consumer Duty

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that it is prepared to take "robust action" against firms that fail to meet the impending Consumer Duty deadline.

With fewer than 90 days to go until the start of the new consumer protection regime the watchdog has urged firms to ensure they are ready for the 31 July deadline.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, warned that firms who ignore the Duty or who pose the most harm can expect swift action.

“Our supervisory and enforcement approach will be proportionate to the harm - or risk of harm - to consumers, with a sharp focus on outcomes," he says. “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.”

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.

Mills says the results of a recent review of firms’ fair value assessment frameworks found that some firms are falling behind in their preparation for the new regime and are failing to address a shortfall in their technology resources.

“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," he says. “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."

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