Regulation  

FCA to assess 'fair value' in new data strategy

FCA to assess 'fair value' in new data strategy

The Financial Conduct Authority has said it will develop a way of assessing whether firms are offering their clients "fair value".

The regulator has said this work will take place over the next three years and will use measurements and metrics to assess fair value for consumers.

Meanwhile the FCA's data strategy will build new ways to collect information and monitor consumers’ satisfaction with financial services firms.

The FCA said: "Fair value for consumers is key to healthy competition and underpins consumer trust in financial services.

"Our recent investigations of pricing practices in general insurance, cash savings and mortgages show markets sometimes fail to achieve fair value for consumers, some of whom pay a loyalty penalty.

"These risks of harm could be exacerbated by the global economic uncertainties caused by coronavirus. We want to protect these consumers, particularly the vulnerable."

The issue of "price discrimination", and "loyalty pricing" has been high on the FCA's agenda in recent years.

In July the regulator pledged to protect all consumers affected by price discrimination in the financial services market and not just those deemed to be vulnerable. 

But the watchdog admitted it would be "more likely" to intervene if price discrimination in the industry resulted in harm to vulnerable customers.

The regulator focused on firms charging different prices to different consumers based solely on differences in their ability to pay, also known as "price discrimination", and firms charging existing customers higher prices than new customers, sometimes referred to as "loyalty pricing" or "inertia pricing". 

In its business plan the FCA added that consumers should be able to access, assess and act on available information to make informed buying decisions.

It said: "They should be confident they are getting appropriate quality and service for the price they pay, and have the information to assess this."

The FCA also said it wanted to make sure consumers received fair value as financial services become increasingly digitised.

It said firms should use data and algorithms ethically to price and have adequate controls to prevent undue bias or discrimination.

The FCA added that it plans to use technology to reduce the burden of regulatory reporting on firms.

It reiterated its plans to replace the Gabriel system with a new platform for collecting firms’ data which will provide an improved user experience and will include a single identity log-on.

Following its viability assessment the FCA, along with the Bank of England, also confirmed it would take forward its work on digital regulatory reporting.

damian.fantato@ft.com