Honest, competitive and fair. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates UK insurance companies including First Central to make sure we do business properly. It sets out rigorous standards and, by sticking to them, we can be certain we’re always looking after our customers as well as we should be.
That’s absolutely right and proper; it’s central to how we operate. The bar’s getting higher though. From 31st July the FCA’s introducing tougher, clearer standards of consumer protection for financial services firms. Called ‘The Consumer Duty’, the new rules take caring for customers to the next level. Whereas we’ve been used to treating people fairly in everything we do, the Consumer Duty means we must now create good outcomes for all our customers, including those with vulnerable characteristics.
Putting people first is second nature to us. We’ve created a culture and values around protecting customers and colleagues. It makes total sense. They influence what we do, how we do it and the results we want to achieve. We’re essentially people looking after people, not just our balance sheets and bottom line, and that means all kinds of people. We’re an inclusive group of diverse voices where everyone’s encouraged to be real. Their true selves. We have five colleague-led communities focusing on areas including LGBTQIA+, gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, neurodiversity, socioeconomics and religion.
So, identifying and considerately relating to customers who are affected by different vulnerabilities is absolutely consistent with who we are. The FCA’s higher standards will strengthen the values that already inspire us rather than forcing us to overhaul our existing beliefs and conduct. We’ll carry on doing what do, but better. We’ll need to think about our customers’ needs, their individual circumstances, behaviours and objectives at every point along their journey with us so we deliver for them.
The new requirements are more robust and touch all aspects of the products and services we offer. They’ll affect most areas of our business, from customer-facing colleagues to our Compliance, Legal, Marketing and Finance teams. We’re making sure we’ll be ready. We’ve set up a Consumer Duty project team which has been looking at what we need to do to meet the stricter Duty and produce good consequences for our customers. We’ve put our processes under the spotlight and come up with ideas to improve how we communicate, beef up our training materials and boost our systems. We’re helping colleagues stay ahead by training them early. We’ll all be prepared; doing business in line with the Consumer Duty will be our shared mission. We’ve chosen to accept it.