Consumer dutyMar 10 2023

Consumer duty 'shining a light' on poor execution of other rules

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Consumer duty 'shining a light' on poor execution of other rules

Consumer duty is "shining a light" on other regulations that advice businesses might not have implemented properly, a consultancy has warned.

During a panel debate at the Consumer Duty - Alive to the Opportunity? conference yesterday in the Shard (March 9), consultants from Alpha warned that several companies they were working with were realising that other things needed to be fixed.

Catherine Thirlaway, senior manager, consumer duty lead, for Alpha, told attendees: "We are seeing a lot of companies asking for help and when we have been going through consumer duty implementation with them, this has been shining a light on other regulations that might not have been fully implemented.

"For example, the Prod regulations under Mifid II. So we have to get these things fixed as well."

Earlier this year, Dynamic Planner's chief executive Ben Goss told FTAdviser that client segmentation under Prod was actually a fantastic framework on which firms could build their consumer duty propositions.

Alpha panellists: Claire Wallace, Beth Cross and Catherine Thirlaway (Source: Alpha Group/Money Alive)

At the time, he said: "While the regulator has posed the challenge of consumer duty, it has also provided the answer - Prod regulation and understanding how to target markets."

Thirlaway added that some companies may have already been confident that they are already working in the best interests of customers, so may not have realised there is more compliance work to do before the July 31 deadline. 

She added: "I spoke to a client the other day and they said they were setting themselves a target of the end of March to do their initial gap analysis. I said, 'Um, okay', and they said, 'I think we might need some help'."

Also speaking on the panel was Beth Cross, senior manager and regulation and compliance specialist for Alpha. She agreed with a question from the floor that consumer duty was presenting a huge "challenge on resources and company capacity".

But she urged companies to consider the following questions when approaching their consumer duty compliance: 

  • How is consumer duty flowing out from the top down?
  • What strategy are you taking?
  • How are you thinking about how to implement consumer duty?
  • What does good look like for your business as well as your clients?

"These are the questions firms should be asking right now", she added.

Spirit of the law

But the panel also warned that companies seeking to fulfil their compliance obligations under consumer duty should not think of this as a tick-box exercise just to get this over the line by July 31. 

Thirlaway added: "Firms can be so focused on trying to be compliant that you forget why you are trying to be compliant in the first place.