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Looking after vulnerable customers

Protecting vulnerable customers has never been more important. The current circumstances have resulted in more individuals unexpectedly falling into the vulnerability category for a wide range of reasons, as well as further impacting those who were already considered ‘vulnerable’.

Identifying a vulnerable customer
The FCA’s Customer Vulnerability report defines a vulnerable customer as: “someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment” and states that vulnerability can be “temporary, sporadic or permanent in nature”. It has identified four key vulnerability drivers:

  • Health
  • Resilience
  • Capability
  • Life events

Hayley Cook from our operational support team explains, “Vulnerability can show in many forms and generally speaking, the customer is likely to disclose a condition or situation which means they fit into one of the categories under the vulnerability umbrella. Remember, no two situations are the same. As such, our colleagues deal with individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis, with the customer’s consent”.  

Whether coronavirus has affected an individual’s finances, health, employment or another aspect of their life, every case will have its individual intricacies and our team can support you to identify your customer’s options when it comes to mortgages.

Supporting a vulnerable customer
As a Society, we have a Vulnerable Customer Standard. We are flexible and sensitive to the needs of the customer and look for effective ways to help them fully understand the financial decisions they make.

Hayley says, “We work with customers to make sure they can access practical and simple information and to identify what we can do to support them as a company, in line with our parameters and polices. We often signpost to external resources, such as charities and other relevant organisations.”

As all vulnerabilities differ, it’s important you treat all individuals on a case by case basis. There are things that you can do or put in place if you are concerned about your customers.

Encourage them to speak to family or friends
This may be a little trickier in lockdown, but your customer may want to pick up the phone to a friend or family member for a little support and to chat through their options.

  • It may be worth suggesting independent legal advice. A qualified third party can support a vulnerable customer to understand agreements they’re entering into.
  • Take time out. Suggest your customer takes extra time to consider the recommendations before making any commitments.

If you want to discuss a specific case, please contact your BDM.

Avoiding financial crime
We have a dedicated space on our consumer website, with guidance to help people avoid financial crime. Vulnerable customers can be particularly susceptible when it comes to scams, and some fraudsters are taking advantage of the current pandemic.

Combating financial abuse
UK Finance and the Home Office is raising awareness of domestic and financial abuse through its #YouAreNotAlone campaign. For more information on financial abuse, visit the dedicated space on our consumer website.

Where can I find out more?
We have a variety of support available for those impacted by coronavirus, and you can find the most up-to-date information on our dedicated page.

If you are concerned about one of your customers, and would like to speak to a member of the team about a specific case, please contact your BDM.

This article is intended as a summary only and does not constitute legal or financial advice given by Leeds Building Society. No reliance should be placed on this article. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice and/or financial advice if you have any questions or queries.

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