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Motor Industry - Legal Articles

Consumer Duty Regulations

On 31st July this year the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Consumer Duty comes into force for existing products and services. It will seek to ensure that customers receive 'good outcomes’ and that firms provide evidence that these outcomes are being met.

The new Rules and Guidance come into force on a phased basis: On 31 July 2023, the Consumer Duty will apply to all new products and services, and all existing products and services that remain on sale or open for renewal. It will then come fully into force on 31 July 2024 and will apply to all closed products and services.

We detail below the implications of the Consumer Duty for MILS Clients and how they might best prepare to meet the new requirements.

Requirements

The FCA claims that the Consumer Duty will set “higher and clearer standards of consumer protection across financial services” and that it requires firms to “put their customers’ needs first”. It will build on the existing ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ principle but will be more far reaching. The cross-cutting rules are high level and unspecific, allowing for interpretation and flexibility in how individual firms implement them. The focus will be upon what an individual customer needs and wants.

Compliance

The FCA recently warned of "swift action" for those that ignore its new standard.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Our supervisory and enforcement approach will be proportionate to the harm – or risk of harm - to consumers, with a sharp focus on outcomes.

“We will prioritise the most serious breaches and act swiftly and assertively where we find evidence of harm or risk of harm to consumers."

Clients will therefore need to ensure they make any necessary changes to comply with the Consumer Duty and importantly should consider whether they are achieving the following:

  • The prioritisation of customer needs and the certainty that their products and services align fully with customer expectations.

  • Customers assurance that the products and services they are buying are good and of fair value.

  • The holding and provision of evidence that customers are always given free access to support before, during and after purchase.

Clients will need to consider urgently what steps they should take to comply with Consumer Duty, which will specifically require dealers to prove that customers are receiving “good outcomes”, and that they continue to monitor and enforce proper procedures in the achievement of these objectives.

The Duty will also require dealers to ensure access to any negotiations with lenders and insurers regarding product design and suitability, to ensure that deal files are completed proving that customers have received and properly understood any information provided and to document the reasoning behind relevant pricing structures. Staff training will clearly be of great importance in ensuring that dealers are properly delivering the Duty’s requirements and meeting customers’ expectations.

The introduction of the Consumer Duty represents a significant change in the regulatory landscape. Full information may be found at www.fca.org.uk/firms/consumer-duty and we would advise Clients to contact their appointed MILS lawyers should they require further guidance.