New FCA Consumer Duty

FCA Consumer Duty Regulations

The importance of working with the right partner

On 31 July 2023, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK will implement the first phase of their new Consumer Duty, aiming to enhance consumer protection and improve outcomes for customers in the financial services industry. This regulatory update will have a significant impact on contact centres, requiring them to make necessary preparations to ensure compliance and maintain high standards of customer service.

In this article, we explore the potential impact of the FCA Consumer Duty on contact centres, emphasising the importance of selecting the right outsource partner and explaining how Ant Group, including Ant Marketing and Ant Protect, has prepared for these regulatory changes.

Understanding the FCA Consumer Duty

The Consumer Duty is a cornerstone of the FCA’s three-year strategy to raise consumer standards. Their aim is to ensure that consumers are treated fairly and receive appropriate products and services from financial institutions. The regulations require firms to act in the best interests of their customers, exercise due skill, care and diligence, whilst providing suitable outcomes for customers.

The rules and guidance are to be introduced in a two-phased approach. With enforcement starting on 31 July 2023 for new and existing products or services that are open to sale or renewal, followed a year later for closed products or services.

Impact on the contact centre industry

The contact centre industry, which handles a significant portion of customer interactions for financial firms, will experience notable changes due to the Consumer Duty.
Contact centre agents will need to undergo enhanced training to ensure they understand the new regulations thoroughly, while compliance monitoring will need to be stricter to guarantee that all customer interactions meet the required standards.

The Consumer Duty will influence how agents engage with customers, meaning they will have to prioritise the customer’s best interests and ensure that the products or services offered are suitable for their needs.

The new regulations demand proper documentation and record-keeping of customer interactions. Contact centres will need to maintain accurate records to demonstrate compliance and resolve any potential disputes.

The importance of picking the right outsource partner

With the FCA’s Consumer Duty adding complexity to customer interactions, financial firms need to be diligent in selecting the right outsource partner for their contact centre operations. So, what do you need to look for in a partner?

1) Expertise and training – a reputable outsource partner should have extensive experience in the financial services sector and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing training for their agents to comply with the new regulations.
2) Compliance and security measures – the chosen partner must have robust compliance and security measures in place to protect sensitive customer data and adhere to the FCA’s guidelines.
3) Adaptability and flexibility – the ideal outsource partner should have the ability to adapt swiftly to regulatory changes and implement necessary modifications to processes and procedures.
4) Customer centric approach – this is vital for meeting the Consumer Duty requirements. The outsource partner should prioritise customer welfare and align their practices with the best interests of the end-users.

How has Ant Group prepared

Ant Group has a vast amount of financial sector experience working with a range of firms. Ant Protect within the Ant Group is FCA accredited, which means we must adhere to their regulations. As such, we have already taken proactive steps to prepare for the Consumer Duty. These include:

Training and development – investing in extensive training programmes for our agents, ensuring they are well-versed with the new regulations and customer centric principles.
Compliance and data security – fortifying our compliance and data security protocols to safeguard customer information and comply with the FCA’s guidelines.
Technology upgrades – upgrading our contact centre technology to enable accurate documentation and smooth monitoring of customer interactions.
Enhanced quality assurance – strengthening our quality assurance procedures to ensure that all interactions meet the required standards of the Consumer Duty regulations.

The FCA’s Consumer Duty are a significant development in the financial services industry, impacting contact centres that serve as crucial touchpoints between financial firms and customers. By selecting the right outsource partner companies can ensure compliance with the new regulations while maintaining a customer-centric approach. Adapting to these changes promptly will not only mitigate risks but also foster trust and loyalty among consumers, ultimately leading to long-term success in the evolving financial landscape.