Consumer dutyApr 25 2023

Comentis launches vulnerability support framework

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Comentis launches vulnerability support framework

Clinical reg tech provider Comentis has launched its vulnerability support framework which will be available to all professionals regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The firm said the framework addresses a wide range of potential vulnerabilities, providing "practical, clinically-based instructions" to support at-risk customers.

The FCA estimates that, at any one time, over 50 per cent of the adult population is experiencing circumstances that could result in a vulnerability. 

However, many firms, once they have identified a potential vulnerability, struggle with how to provide appropriate support.

With the consumer duty taking effect on July 31 and there being potential sanctions for those failing to ensure vulnerable customers receive good outcomes, this knowledge gap must be urgently addressed, Comentis said.

It has developed the vulnerability support framework in direct response to this challenge. 

Tim Farmer, co-founder and clinical director at Comentis, said: “Consumer duty will place identifying and supporting vulnerable customers firmly at the centre of the FCA’s regulation. 

“However, many firms are struggling with the support element of that process. We have therefore created this framework, bringing together best practices from a range of vulnerability specialists, to help determine those crucial next steps.”

Farmer said what makes this framework unique is that it’s intended as a practical tool which is designed not only to educate and encourage the raising of standards, but also to provide clinically-informed instruction for any professional who has identified a financial vulnerability or vulnerable circumstance.

“It’s also something we plan to build on, with further initiatives to ensure good outcomes for at-risk customers,” he said.

Ranging from divorce and bereavement to dementia and low resilience, the vulnerabilities addressed have been identified through Comentis’ online customer assessment tool.

By developing the framework, and releasing it to all, Comentis said it hopes that firms will be better equipped to provide vulnerable customers with the best possible outcomes, but also to raise standards across the industry.

John Somerville, head of financial services, professional education at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, said: “As the work to identify vulnerable customers advances, so too do the complexities involved in knowing how to advise them appropriately. 

“I have worked with Comentis on various awareness-raising initiatives and their clinical expertise has helped me understand this issue in a much deeper way.”

Somerville added: “This support framework will not only help advisers to develop their own understanding of the complexities of vulnerability, but will also offer practical working solutions for challenging situations.”

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