Let lessons of the past help to protect your future

There’s a well-known adage that says if you give a man a fish, you will feed him for a day, if you teach him to fish you will feed him for life.  Indeed, this approach of learning from one’s own experience, rather than the experience of others is often very apt; if, for example, you’re learning to fish, or how to tie your shoelaces, the most valuable way to learn is to get in there yourself and give it a go until you have mastered the appropriate skill.  In other things, however, such as navigating the intricacies of the FCA’s CONC Handbook, I would urge you to instead spend some time on the side lines, learning from the mistakes of others.

In last week’s column, I wrote about the very real consequences of not meeting the requirements of the regulator, namely being heavily fined or de-authorised, rendering you unable to conduct business. One of the key phrases you are likely to have heard since becoming authorised by the FCA is ‘treating customers fairly’, and this was the overarching reason given for most of the recent penalties handed out by the FCA.  I’m sure that you’ll all agree that it’s a positive aim for every firm who deals with customers of any type, but what does in mean for you, in practice?  Well, many of the recurring themes stated by the regulator in its discussion of recent breaches were:

  • Affordability – have you done enough to assess whether the finance agreement entered was feasible for your client, given their income and other financial commitments?
  • Vulnerability – have you followed the FCA’s guidelines on vulnerable clients to ensure that your customer has a full understanding of their credit agreement, repayments and the potential repercussions of not meeting the repayments?
  • Accuracy – are the communications you send to your customers entirely accurate and clear when outlining what they owe?
  • Fairness – if clients do fall into arrears, are the measures you take to address the situation reasonable and appropriate? 

And, of course, my personal mantra; when ensuring that you are following all FCA requirements, it is essential that you record and document your processes and practices.  Learn from where others have gone awry in order to better futureproof your own business and avoid potential pitfalls.

It can be difficult to keep on top of these regulatory processes whilst also running a business, and that’s where working with an organisation like The SimplyBiz Group could prove invaluable. Our specialist team will keep you up to date with what you need to do, the practicalities of how to approach it and the regularity with which it needs to happen, so that you don’t have to do it all yourself. The SimplyBiz Group has 14 years of experience in this area and is perfectly placed to help you as you navigate the world of regulatory reporting. If you want help with adapting to FCA regulation and keeping compliant on an ongoing basis, please get in touch with us urgently on 01484 443 424.

David Golder
Managing Director
Consumer Credit Centre
The SimplyBiz Group