On Monday 31st July 2023 the Financial Conduct Authority released The Consumer Duty for finance intermediaries like Bluestone (and other distributors). Here we summarise what The Consumer Duty is, why we have chosen to embrace it, and how the change impacts our customers.
The Financial Conduct Authority took over conduct and relevant prudential regulation from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in 2013. Firms and individuals must be authorised or registered by us to carry out certain activities. Before the FCA grants authorisation, firms like Bluestone must demonstrate that they meet a range of requirements. The FCA then supervises any authorised firms to ensure they continue to meet their standards and rules. If firms and individuals fail to meet these standards, they have a range of enforcement powers they can use.
The Consumer Duty is a set of new regulations that all FCA-regulated firms and individuals need to show that they comply with, now and going forwards.
Extract from The Consumer Duty: “Setting higher standards and putting consumers’ needs first is central to our strategy – and the cornerstone of this is the Duty. We want to see a higher level of consumer protection in retail financial markets, where firms compete vigorously in consumers’ interests. Firms need to understand their customers’ needs and to have the flexibility to support them with certainty of our expectations, so they get good outcomes.”
The FCA’s Consumer Duty document can be read in full here: https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/consumer-duty
One of the side effects of introducing stricter rules and higher standards is that many financial firms are now opting to stop providing finance for regulated customers. This unfortunately means that regulated professions, businesses and industries (a full list of which can be found here UK regulated professions and their regulators - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) will have fewer options when trying to secure commercial finance.
Bluestone, however, has taken the decision to fully embrace The Consumer Duty and remain FCA-regulated.
“To ensure we can continue to transact across the entire spectrum of UK business, and to maintain our reputation as an ethical and diverse intermediary, we made the call to remain FCA regulated.
“This has been a large undertaking that many firms have not been prepared to embark on.
“We’ve invested heavily in reviewing our existing processes, people development, and documentation to ensure our already high standards now meet the new Consumer Duty criteria, but we feel it is absolutely justified to ensure we can continue to support as many UK organisations as possible in these difficult economic conditions.
“The Consumer Duty dictates that all customers, regulated or non-regulated, should be treated the same with “Treating Customers Fairly (TCF)”, running throughout the new criteria. Our customers are, and have always been, at the heart of the business and any decisions we take, so we are delighted to see this being led and upheld industry-wide by the FCA.”
Richard Tamlyn, Head of Sales & Marketing at Bluestone
Bluestone is still here, committed to continuing to meet the FCA’s standards, putting customers’ needs before our own and ensuring we provide clear and ethical guidance at every stage of the finance process, and ready to provide a range of finance solutions for bot
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