Smarter Consumer Communications: a further step in the journey.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched their Smarter Consumer Communications initiative to bring about a change in the way information is both communicated and delivered to consumers. Their publications are just one step in the journey that they hope to take with firms.

The FCA believes consumer engagement can best be achieved through rethinking: not just what it is communicated, but also how it is communicated with consumers. Consumers are engaging with new communication technologies, leading to fast-changing habits and preferences. A predominately paper-based disclosure may not meet today’s consumer information needs.

To deliver this, it requires a fundamental change in mindset about how to communicate effectively with consumers. The pace of innovation means that both firms and the regulators need to be able to adapt quickly to the fast-changing needs and expectations of consumers.

The challenge is to ensure that regulation supports innovation and can keep pace with the market by responding quickly to new ideas and communication methods. The FCA’s overall ambition is to create an environment and regulatory framework where firms’ communications encourage and enable informed consumer engagement and making decisions regarding financial products and services.

FS16/10: Smarter Consumer Communications

This Feedback Statement reports on the themes arising from the responses to their Discussion Paper on Smarter Consumer Communications and sets out planned work.

The FCA examine the following issues:

  • presentation of terms and conditions (T&Cs)
  • complexity of information provided to consumers at retirement
  • common terminology in the general insurance sector
  • cover offered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for specific products or services
  • raising consumer awareness of the Financial Ombudsman Service
  • transparency around the scope and cost of an investment advice service
  • cost transparency, and
  • communication in asset management In relation to the Handbook, they focus on the following areas:

In the Feedback Statement, they also share same examples of approaches that firms are taking to communicate more effectively with their consumers. By showing these examples, the FCA hope to encourage other firms to think differently and to consider not just the required message, but also the best means of communications.

  • providing information in a durable medium
  • FCA projections regime
  • FCA guidance on the use of social media
  • risk warnings in radio advertisement, and
  • annual percentage rates (APR) In October 2015, the regulator consulted on proposals to remove ineffective disclosure requirements from its Handbook.
  • This Policy Statement summarises the feedback they received about the proposed changes to the rules. Based on the feedback received, the FCA have decided to proceed with proposals to remove the rules or guidance around the following disclosures:

PS16/23: Removing ineffective disclosure requirements in the Handbook

Next steps

communications

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  • The ‘Consumer-Friendly Principles and Practices of Financial Management’ (CFPPFM)
  • Short report
  • Initial Disclosure Document (IDD)/ Combined Initial Disclosure Document (CIDD)
  • Combined Initial Disclosure Document (CIDD)/ Services and Costs Disclosure Document (SCDD)

Read two of the latest publications on Smarter Consumer Communications

Source: FCA website