We are all vulnerable customers sometimes

While you may not consider yourself a vulnerable customer, there are certainly occasions when we are all vulnerable to some extent.

By Nigel Yeates
Published: 17 December 2021 FSCS news
Graphic of person curled up, fingers pointing at them

According to the Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Lives Survey in 2020, ‘between March and October 2020, the number of adults with characteristics of vulnerability increased by 3.7 million to 27.7 million. A 15% increase on the February figure, this takes the overall proportion to 53% of all adults.’

Vulnerabilities can be much more wide-ranging than you may think – financial hardship, life events, being a victim of fraud, an unexpectedly large bill, physical impairments, age-related impairments, literacy and numeracy skills, health issues, lack of technology knowledge and many more.  Some of these have of course been heightened by the pandemic.  I know within my family and friends there are a number of these vulnerabilities present.

At the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) we are committed to continually improving the service we provide to our customers; we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to make a claim to us.  Part of this is making sure we can offer the most appropriate help to any of our customers that are vulnerable. We’ve recently enhanced the service for everyone, and we now ask all customers at the start of their claim application if they consider themselves to have a vulnerability.  Identifying and gaining a full understanding of our customers’ vulnerabilities and needs upfront means we can tailor how we help them all through their claim journey and make any necessary adjustments to the process.  Now we’re asking more specific questions about vulnerability, we’re able to learn more about the different kinds of vulnerability that may occur so we can best help each individual.

What else is FSCS doing to help?

As well as the changes to our application forms, we’re continuing to evolve our service in other ways to support our vulnerable customers:

  • We now have customer care champions who have had extensive training to deal with every customer’s individual situation. We partnered with the Money Advice Trust to deliver this training.
  • Our customer care champions meet regularly to share hints and tips and spread this knowledge as widely as possible. This network of champions means we’re more joined-up and consistent and better able to help those who need us.
  • All our front-line staff now use an interactive toolkit that shares the key training and lessons learned.
  • We also now have a customer care dashboard that helps tell the story behind the data, and the types of vulnerability we see, so we are better able to make adjustments and serve our customers more personally.
  • We are also working with a new accessibility needs provider to enhance our offering to meet different accessibility care needs, e.g., providing alternative formats like braille and large print. This is facilitated at the start of the application process.

Looking forward

FSCS will continue to enhance our approach by listening to our customers and ensuring they can tell us about any care or communication needs at the earliest opportunity, so we can further tailor the service we provide.

We’re here to help you every step of the way when you claim with us. We want everyone to feel they can claim with us directly so they can keep all the compensation they’re entitled to. Some customers use a representative, such as a Claims Management Company or a Solicitor, to claim on their behalf, but a representative will take a cut of any compensation you receive. It’s no quicker to use a representative as they must follow the same process as you would to make a claim.

If you do feel you want someone to handle your claim for you, another option is to use a trusted friend or relative as your representative. You can find out all you need to know on our personal representative page.

See more information on making a claim with FSCS.

Other organisations that can further support you

  • Citizens Advice - an independent organisation specialising in confidential information and advice to assist people with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other problems in the United Kingdom - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
  • Samaritans - a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress or struggling to cope throughout Great Britain and Ireland - https://www.samaritans.org/
  • Mind - a mental health charity in England and Wales founded in 1946 - https://www.mind.org.uk/
  • StepChange - a debt charity operating across the United Kingdom -https://www.stepchange.org/
  • Money Advice Trust - a national charity, helping people across the UK to tackle their debts and manage their money with confidence - https://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/