In today’s bulletin
- General update
- FCA speech
- Individual Insolvency Statistics: July to September 2022
- DROs – guidance for debt advisers
New PM, Rishi Sunak, has delayed the government’s planned fiscal statement until 17 November as he seeks more time to make the “right decisions” on managing the British economy. Stability is key for both the markets and UK citizens, where consumer confidence remains low. StepChange has set out their top 3 asks of the new PM.
UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is warning people to be alert to potential fraud, as more than half of the public (56%) said they are likely to look for opportunities to make extra money in the coming months due to the rise in the cost-of-living.
UK Finance has also published a blog entitled ‘Consumer Duty Champions – do you know what your destination is?”. For destination read ‘end state’, which is part of the gap analysis.
The price of diesel at UK pumps has gone above £1.90 a litre for the first time in nearly 3 months. Whilst travelling to the Manchester area several times in the last fortnight that diesel prices on the A1 and M62 are close to £2 a litre.
Meanwhile, the government has approved the agreement for Octopus Energy to take-on the Bulb energy 1.5m customers.
Tech for Good start-up Lightning Reach and benefits platform INBEST have partnered with Fair4All Finance to broaden their coverage of support for individuals on both platforms.
Stop Loans Sharks England (www.stoploansharks.co.uk) are working with PayPlan to deliver bespoke new training package for Debt Advisers. This will support them in recognising the symptoms and signs that a client may be involved with a loan shark and how to refer victims to Stop Loan Sharks for specialist support. Illegal money lending can be a highly emotive and sensitive area of work. The ability to ask the right questions and respond sensitively and effectively is vital in unearthing such cases. Debt advisers are well placed to identify, support and protect victims of loan sharking.
Specialist training is designed to help you gain an understanding of the issues around loan sharks. If you would like to find out more and improve access to support for victims of crime in your community, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Trish Cassidy is also calling on debt collectors to consider consumers that may be subject to activity with loan sharks.
Many loan shark victims also owe money to regulated lenders, be that priority arrears or consumer debts. The nature of illegal lending means that the majority of victims will prioritise repayments to the loan shark above all else, therefore missing payments on debts is highly likely. To her knowledge, currently no digital collections platform has the ability for a consumer to record that a loan shark problem is the reason for their arrears. Until the loan shark debt has been resolved, the customer is often not in control of their finances as the loan shark dictates the repayment amount, frequency and method. Meanwhile other debts and arrears are mounting.
There has much talk in recent months of the need for cross sector collaboration and encouraging open conversations where customers can disclose their situation and vulnerabilities in a safe way.
Trish Cassidy – Trish.firstname.lastname@example.org – 07517 538721
Mehmet has shared his presentation from the Credit Union event on 28 September 2022 that triggered the communication from Trish to digital debt resolution providers.
Hyper-vigilance during cost-of-living crisis
Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the FCA, made a speech on 27 October around action by the FCA around predatory financial promotions during the cost-of-living crisis.
He also referenced the focused engagement with lenders following the “Dear CEO” letters in June 2022. The early outputs (featured last week in the DEMSA bulletin) from the 2022 Financial Lives survey of 19,000 people suggest that more expect to struggle in the months ahead. Nearly 8m are finding paying for the basics a heavy burden, 2.5m more than last year. The recent mini-budget U-turns will mean that tailored forbearance from April 2023 will be in the spotlight. Recent requests for information (RFIs) indicate that the FCA is serious about taking a data-driven approach and firms will need to back-up Duty activities with MI to support the resilience of transformation plans.
The FCA remain vigilant to actors preying on consumers’ vulnerabilities and are intervening against problematic financial promotions, including 8 times more interventions year-to-date compared to last year. Scam awareness has also been very much front-of-mind recently. I have provided the link below to their ‘early oversight webinar’ on financial promotions which will be of interest to firms new to the FCA regime.
DEMSA is working with the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and supporting their Stop Loan Shark campaigns. Cath Wohlers and Trish Cassidy are on the DEMSA circulation list. I have featured a request by Trish below regarding debt recovery engagement with her team.
Collaboration is key and it will be interesting to see if there is genuine engagement with other regulators under UKRN and with government agencies. Data sharing isn’t a one way process.
Mr Rathi reinforced that upfront efforts from regulated firms around the implementation of the Duty should mean fewer rules down the line. He recognised that the timetables are demanding and that the FCA will aim to be ‘pragmatic’ in their oversight of implementation with the next key deadline on 31/10. FCA webinars next week on FCA ‘expectations’ will be an interesting test of this position. I am attending one on 1 November 2022.
During the FCA sessions, they will focus on the following areas:
- Their expectations for firms under the Consumer Duty and key milestones during the implementation period
- What is outcomes-based regulation?
- What the Consumer Duty means for our sectors
I suspect that ‘pragmatic approach’ may not feature prominently in these sessions, especially for higher risk sectors. Roma Pearson’s communication has provided insight into sectors that have been ‘bundled’ together from a policy and supervision perspective. My feeling is that there will be references to the 2 consultation papers (i.e. CPs – “you have been adequately warned”) that preceded PS22/9 and the “Dear CEO” letters by portfolio on 27 June 2022. Ongoing RFIs and use of more 2022 Financial Lives snippets are likely to frame FCA expectations and the narrative of implementation plans by firms in different sectors. QA outcomes, treatment of vulnerability, product assurance frameworks, scenario testing, consumer outcomes and business readiness will be the language in use to April 2023 (for manufacturers with distribution chains) and July 2023 for simpler business models.
It may be worth revisiting the portfolio letters, as they provide a strong indication of the direction of travel, starting with the ‘Rising cost-of-living’ sub-heading.
There is an interesting LinkedIn debate triggered by Marianne Withers following an event that Chris Jones (VCX) and Garry Gormley were involved in around the Consumer Duty and how this will apply down the supply chain to regaulted/unregulated BPO providers and other critical service providers. There are also some interesting parallels with how ‘the bar’ is being raised in public sector procurements (e.g. CCaaS, BPO), to the extent that you really have to get what expectations are around ESG, continuous improvement, cyber-security, operational resilience, financial resilience and other outcome-based metrics that now prevail – even if you have the best functional product or service on the market. Having the best interest of consumers over the commercial interests of very successful firms remains rare and this prevails throughout firms as part of the culture, which is very difficult to influence and change. The Conduct Rules go right to the ‘coal face’ for the vast majority of staff & ‘associates’ and that is where the FCA will be observing outcomes. If the primary party delivering this service is a third-party then the scrutiny increases. Move it offshore then that scrutiny rises by several orders of magnitude because the rationale for the outsource was not to improve customer experience (i.e. OPEX instead of CX) and measuring employee experience (EX) down the supply chain requires a lot of work, especially when Modern Day Slavery policies become relevant with regard to low value activities (e.g. data capture, back-office admin).
Link: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/consumer-duty-events – includes events on 1/11/2022
Product Assurance Frameworks under PRIN 2A
Earlier in October, I published a thought piece (attached) around aligning Statutory Debt Repayment Plans (SDRPs) to PRIN 2A as a ‘dry run’ to debt solution providers mapping existing products to the new Duty before April 2023. This reflects much of what we discuss in the VRS Consumer Duty training featured below.
Clearly, we are all awaiting the HM Treasury response to the industry submissions in August 2022. It interesting that John Glen MP is now back on the scene in HM Treasury in the new Cabinet team. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said on Tuesday that he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, replacing Edward Argar. The role is one of the most senior ministerial positions within the finance ministry and carries responsibility for organising government departmental spending.
VRS Consumer Duty training – 31/10/2022
Individual Insolvency Statistics: July to September 2022
The Insolvency Service has issued its 2021/22 Annual Report. During 2021-22 there were 83,442 IVAs. The Insolvency Service continued to work closely with RPBs and other stakeholders to develop and publish a revised IVA Protocol. The protocol provides a standard framework for dealing with consumer IVAs and is widely used by insolvency practitioners and creditors. Changes were introduced to make the equity provisions relating to homeowners easier to navigate and to ensure that vulnerable consumers are identified and obtain appropriate support to understand the process. This is now more aligned with the FCA vulnerability guidance.
In line with FCA announcements around financial promotions, The Insolvency Service has worked with other stakeholders to tackle poor and misleading advertisements by both IVA providers and those that refer work to them. This includes publishing revised guidance for the RPBs on monitoring of marketing. They have worked with RPBs, Advertisement Standards Agency (ASA) and the FCA on enforcement to ensure consumers receive appropriate information and advice for their circumstances.
Call for evidence: Review of the personal insolvency framework – this closed on 23/10.
England and Wales, Q3 2021 to Q3 2022, seasonally adjusted
Source: Insolvency Service
Breathing Space Registrations
There were 18,347 Breathing Space registrations in Q3 2022. This is 18% higher than in Q3 2021. Of the 18,347 Breathing Space registrations, 18,050 were Standard breathing space registrations and 297 were Mental Health breathing space registrations.
Debt Relief Orders: Guidance for debt advisers
There have been some updates in October 2022 around the treatment of pensions in DROs. New entries created for:
- Pension as income
- Pension accessible as a lump sum
- Pension as an asset
This is to clarify how debt advisers should assess a DRO applicant’s pension and cover previously missing information. The entry Undrawn Personal Pensions and Occupational Pensions has now been removed as this new guidance covers this.
MALG conference in Birmingham – 3/11/2022
I have posted on LinkedIn around my slot at the event – ‘Looking back, looking ahead: 35 years of lending, collections and advice’. It looks like many familiar faces will be attending. You can find me on the VRS stand.
BSI ISO22458 webinar – 9/11/2022
There is a free webinar for those firms who fall into the BSI ‘generic’ scheme (i.e. not Financial Services, Energy or Water) for ISO 22458/Inclusive Service Kitemark on the 9 November 2002
‘Mixed message’ launch at FCA on 15/11/2022
Minesh has asked me to promote the event on 15 November 2022. I have copied Minesh above. I am looking forward to attending.
Credit-Connect Think Tank and Awards – 17/11/2022
We are seeing many on the circulation featured ahead of the Awards dinner on 17/11/2022. I am looking forward to attending. This features a number of collaborations, including essential service provider like IE Hub and United Utilities. DebtStream and Qualco are in the same category for best use of technology alongside Webio and LendingMetrics.
Chris Warburton is chairing the Think Tank during the day.
Vulnerability Summit – 21/11 at the Brewery, London
Another rail strike and a new date for the diary.
We are covering:
- What measures can and should be put in place
- Gambling and regulation
- Gambling limits – technology available
- Responsibility of the lenders
I am pleased to be supporting a panel session on the cost-of-living crisis on 21 November 2022. I may have to juggle on the day with the Vulnerability Summit event now moved to the same day.
The utilities landscape webinar, brought to you by TieTa and DebtStream on 23/11 at 10am
Steve Wrench has recently joined TieTa as Contact Centre Director. He will be known to many on the circulation. I had a call with Tom Horne, director of TieTa, last week. I have a regular catch-up with Martin and Gareth at DebtStream and hope to see them at various events this month.
Credit Strategy – Collections & Vulnerability Summit – Midland Hotel, Manchester – 30/11/2022
I am looking forward to speaking at this event on 30 November 2022, again at the Midland Hotel, Manchester. Lantern and Just are featured sponsors along with a number of other familiar names with much larger marketing budgets than DEMSA. I am an available dinner companion if anybody is wondering.
Receive notifications of new content notifications: Subscribe here - unsubscribe anytime