Helping Vulnerable Clients with Financial Services

Published / Last Updated on 31/07/2020

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants regulated financial services firms to do more to ensure that vulnerable consumers are receiving positive advice outcomes and have set out new best practice guidance for firms to protect consumers.

FCA research suggests that over 1 million people received debt advice last year.  In addition, more than 24 million people display 1 or more characteristics of vulnerability including:

  • Recent life events such as bereavement
  • Physical and mental health issues
  • Capability and financial resilience

Consumer organisations and a range of firms and trade bodies provided feedback on the first phase of the consultation in July 2019.

Many firms thought carefully about their customers and potential vulnerability, but the FCA are aware that some case firms did not consider the vulnerability of their client or positively exploited it for gain. 

The guidance will ensure consistency across the financial services sector and provide a framework to allow firms to accurately assess whether they are treating vulnerable customers fairly.

The FCA has also published research on vulnerable consumers experiences of dealing with financial services firms, which includes 21 in-depth case studies and highlights 4 key themes:

  • The value of sympathy
  • The importance of empowered and knowledgeable staff
  • Recognising vulnerability and understanding customers’ needs
  • Meeting vulnerable consumers communication needs

Consultation for the guidance is open until 30th September 2020.


It is astonishing what lengths some people will go to to exploit the vulnerable.  It would be so much easier for the FCA to issue a set of rules, not just for financial firms. but for all firms on a code of conduct for dealing with vulnerable people.  In addition, for the Government to pass laws to make it a 'criminal' offence if any person takes advantage of vulnerability for financial gain.  Jail and a criminal record are great deterrents.

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