FCA new guidance for vulnerable customers & how to prepare your staff


For the 3rd time today we’ve taken a call from an overseas number saying that our Visa card has a suspicious transaction taking place and to press 1 immediately to take action.  Now we all know this is a scam, but what about those vulnerable people who get sucked in?

The Financial Lives Survey has found that “50% of UK adults have one or more characteristics of being potentially vulnerable”.  These include:-

  • Health – illness or reduced ability to carry out day to day tasks
  • Life Events – bereavement, relationship breakdown, housing
  • Resilience – a reduced ability to withstand financial or emotional shocks
  • Capability – reduced knowledge of financial matters.

The FCA are undertaking a draft proposal and consultation (4th October 2019 for responses) to understand and implement further improvements that can be made to support these groups.

We are delighted to be working with one of our FCA clients on staff development around vulnerable customers and how to recognise and respond to their needs.  The training starts in September and includes working with an actor to bring some realistic scenarios into the learning environment for greater practice and confidence in handling these cases.

More information and the details for the consultation feedback can be found in the FCA July 2019 document – https://www.fca.org.uk/publication/guidance-consultation/gc19-03.pdf

There are many who should be interested in the consultation feedback, but specifically they are looking for responses from:-

  • Any FCA regulated organisation
  • Industry groups and trade bodies
  • Consumers
  • Organisations promoting the interests of vulnerable people
  • Consumer advisors.

Why is Customer Service so difficult?

marketing office working business
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Over the last week, we have encountered a variety of poor customer service which ranged from downright appalling or just did not wow us.

We recommended an online food supplier to our daughter and as a result, she had a voucher code for a discount.  When this was not applied we emailed and called and got no response.  When we did finally manage to speak to a real person, after explaining the problem, the phone went dead which probably meant the advisor felt the call would take too long which would impact poorly on his call times.  When we called back, another advisor blamed us, the customer, for putting the wrong details into the order.  This is still outstanding and the experience detracts from the great product we are receiving.  All it needed was for someone to take responsibility for sorting it out and reassuring us to this effect.  Not difficult!

We picked up some documentation from a high street retailer where we’ve been a client for around 10 years and placed a number of valuable orders with them.  We had our 10 month old grandson with us and whilst you could not fault the efficiency of the service, there was little warmth and no engagement, (the baby is the obvious link to this).  As a result of this and previous interactions which have not ‘wowed’ us, our next big purchase in this area has been placed through a competitor who has gone over and above expectations with another member of our family.

We have other examples but I guess you get the picture.  Customer service should not be this difficult.  It is about taking an interest in the customer, ownership of problems and using ‘small talk’ to build the relationship.  Training certainly helps with this,  but a lot of it is about people skills and taking a real interest in people, skills that training courses cannot help!

Being flexible with your approach and your to-do list will still get done


I love a good book – a passionate English teacher instilled the joy of losing yourself in a novel – whether fact or fiction, it is an opportunity to take some time and immerse yourself in the written word.

BUT as we know, life gets in the way and often the best laid plans go awry – work, children, laundry, elderly parents, ironing, gardening, decorating, work, ironing, shopping, (did I mention ironing?). When do you find the time to sit and just delve into a book uninterrupted for an hour or so?

Now those with excellent time management skills may well put aside time to do just that. Unfortunately (as with exercise routines), I am one of those that goes into the MO of  “just a minute, I need to finish this first” and surprise, surprise, I never get round to it and end up frustrated and annoyed. And on the off chance I do, I then feel guilty for not doing the other stuff, mainly the ironing!

My husband (and our MD), Keith has discovered a love of podcasts.  Off he trundles with the dog for a good walk and a catch up with Brexitcast or some other entertainment seeping through the earphones.

But whilst I enjoy the odd podcast, it’s books I love.  I have recently downloaded an audiobook.  I have previously been a bit sniffy of these – not sure why, but it seemed a lazy way of getting to grips with a novel, by having it read Jackanory style.

But hang on, what was wrong with Jackanory?  Those of us of a certain age will probably remember the joy and fun of having someone bring a book to life whilst sitting in an armchair bringing to life the characters on the page.

So, I ventured into the downloadable audio book and what a revelation it has been.  I can cook, drive, paint the bedroom, take the sleeping grandson in his pushchair for a walk and yes, iron, whilst losing myself in the written and spoken word.  Historical novels, thrillers and autobiographies have accompanied me in my daily tasks over the last few days.

I have “read” 3 books in one week and am still on top of my to do list…..result!

Sometimes you need to find an alternative that works for you. It is easy enough to say you need to make the time for yourself: look after your mental and physical health: get a work/life balance:- the difficulty can be when you can’t see the wood for the trees and you think that there’s only one way to get the result you need.

Be flexible, be open to alternatives and find what works for you, and you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish whilst still feeding your imagination and wellbeing.

Busy doing nothing?


We are all busy these days – how often do you feel that you don’t have enough time?  Rushing from one thing to another, demands of children on school holidays; arranging things at work; catching up on that boxset of Killing Eve – the demands on our time are endless.

In the words of Bing Crosby from 1949, are you guilty of being “busy doing nothing, working the whole day through”?

Being busy should be celebrated though – whether personally or professionally, having a focus on your time and efforts is great. Who wants to wallow around with little or nothing to stimulate or interest them? So often though the word is used in a negative framework.

The dictionary definition is:- diligent, industrious imply active or earnest effort to accomplish something, or a habitual attitude of such earnestness.

There are those that use the “busy” phrase to avoid adding to their workload as in “I’m too busy, sorry”; or just to impress others with how vital they are to the business or project. I have worked with some people who advocate they fill their days with diligently doing “stuff” and spend the rest of their time telling you all about how busy they are!

It is fair to say that no one starts their day with the intention of wasting time – it is a precious resource and one that we cannot get back.  So using it wisely and ensuring that we are busy doing the right things (as effectively as possible), makes sense.  Some advocate the use of “to do” lists as a means to monitor their input and output.  For others this is just means to get frustrated at one other thing to think about when you’re busy!

We should all thrive on having our days filled with different tasks and opportunities – even those that require you to sit still for 10 minutes doing nothing in order to gain an opportunity to refocus and reflect, is a balance of time well spent.

Perhaps the next time you use the words “I’m busy” think of an alternative phrase that describes what you’re doing, even if that describes sitting with the kids playing a game – it’s time well spent but celebrate it with a vibrant and descriptive alternative.


Wow, impact from learning

How lovely to receive this today from a delegate we’ve worked with for a number of years in his previous company.  He’s attended a variety of courses, not always of immediate use to him but as he was progressed through the business,  by having the learning in the back pocket, as the new challenges have arrived he’s been prepared for them and has the tools to tackle them.

Great he embraced the learning for the future, rather than taking the view “this isn’t relevant to my job” and highlights those companies that have the forethought to ensure their staff are trained in advance and not always put on a course reactively.

He now has the chance to use the learning for his new role in another organisation.  There are those that may say he’s used the investment by his previous company to benefit his new organisation.  That is however part of the ebb and flow of our greatest resources – our people and by valuing them and investing in their development, they give of their best whilst they’re with you and when they move on, allowing others to move into their roles and start the process again.

Training Benefits

The greatest strength is sharing knowledge & power with subordinates


We’ve recently been working with an organisation whose leader has been signed off with unexpected sickness.  Whilst the necessary support has been in place for them to be absent for as long as is required, it is important that the business continues to work smoothly and efficiently.

Continuity for staff and customers

Having strong deputies in place who can pick up the reins and provide continuity for both staff and consumers has meant that as little disruption as possible is felt by everyone involved.  This is a testament to the individuals themselves who rise to the challenge, but also highlights the benefits of planning for such events and having the processes in place for allowing staff to be trained with all the know-how to allow them to be in a position to step in at a moments notice.

Planning ahead and practising skills

Having senior staff willing to share their experience, knowledge and expertise on a regular basis ensures that the culture of the organisation enables others to be confident in all aspects of the leadership role.  Because staff have been developed on the job, learning different responsibilities and having the opportunity to “practise” those skills whilst the leader is in place, has meant that the transition of leadership can been slick and well ordered.

We all know that change is viewed suspiciously by many and can cause unnecessary angst and discombobulation.  By having a calm and dextrous hand-over of power in uncertain times, gives everyone the confidence in the leadership and harnesses the team support going forward.

Strength in sharing knowledge

It is short sighted and narrow minded to not plan for the unexpected in business and the greater strength is sharing knowledge and power with subordinates so they are able to step up to the plate when required, flourish in the new responsibilities and feel confident in their abilities to hold the fort for as long as required.