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A new regulatory approach that the FSB is introducing to protect customers of financial services is called Treating Customers Fairly – or “TCF” for short.
Financial products are often complex and most consumers simply don’t have enough financial knowledge to have fair bargaining power with financial services firms. As a result, financial consumers are unfortunately vulnerable to abuse by those who are not as committed to fair treatment of customers as they should be.
Although there are already a number of laws in place designed to ensure fair treatment, these are sometimes fragmented and the new Treating Customers Fairly framework is designed to be an overarching approach that will apply consistently across the financial sector.
Below are the six specific results – or “outcomes” – that all FSB regulated companies and financial advisers are expected to deliver to their customers.
The six TCF outcomes are:
• Outcome 1: As a customer, you can be confident that you are dealing with a firm where fair treatment of customers is central to the firm’s culture.
• Outcome 2: Products and services marketed and sold are designed to meet the needs of identified customer groups and are targeted accordingly.
• Outcome 3: Customers are given clear information and kept appropriately informed before, during and after the time of contracting.
• Outcome 4: Where you receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of your circumstances.
• Outcome 5: Firms provide you with products that perform as they have led you to expect and provide you with acceptable service. (This is sometimes described as the product “doing what it says on the tin”.)
• Outcome 6: You do not face unreasonable barriers if you later want to make changes to a product, switch products, submit a claim or make a complaint.
In effect if a firm can show that they consistently deliver all of these six outcomes for their customers, then they will be treating their customers fairly. In the light of that, what should consumers do if they believe they have been unfairly treated by a financial services company or financial adviser?
When you think about how to describe your complaint about unfair treatment, you should consider the six TCF outcomes discussed and – if relevant to your situation – raise the following types of concerns in your complaint:
• The product sold to me did not meet my needs. It was not designed for customers in my situation and should not have been sold to me.
• I was not given clear information before contracting – or I was not kept properly informed of important information during the period of the contract.
• The advice I was given was not suitable because it did not take my circumstances into account.
• The product I was sold – or the service I have received – is not in line with what I was led to expect.
• Unreasonable barriers were put in my way when I wanted to make a claim, or complain, or make changes to the product, or switch products.
For more information contact the FSB in one of the following ways;
Contact Number: 0800 20 20 87 / 0800 11 04 43
Written by Loshini Govender
Community Relations Officer
Consumer Education Department
Financial Services Board