A recent Chartered Body Alliance (CBA) global survey has revealed the realities regarding the treatment of customers in vulnerable circumstances, including that 33% of respondents working in financial services considered themselves to be vulnerable within the last 12 months.
The survey was undertaken by CBA members between 4 August and 8 September 2021. A total of 1,637 responses were received.
During the past 12 months, the majority of respondents (61%) said they had either directly or indirectly supported a customer in vulnerable circumstances, while 75% had discussed the issues facing such customers within their team, either frequently or on occasion.
Respondents were asked if they had seen any examples of bad practice towards customers in vulnerable circumstances. Detailed, anonymous examples were provided by 356 respondents and included:
- Elderly customers being directed to online complaint forms.
- Pushy salespeople.
- Overuse of automation and AI, along with a lack of availability of telephone contact.
- A lack of empathy for bereaved customers.
- Poor response to instances of scamming and fraud.
- Lack of sensitivity to customers’ physical disabilities.
When asked about their firms’ policies and procedures around the treatment of customers in vulnerable circumstances, almost four fifths (80%) said their organisation does have policies and procedures in place, while just above 10% did not.
However, a significantly lower percentage (58%) had received formal, structured training on the fair treatment of customers in vulnerable circumstances. Of those who had undergone training, only half (51%) had received it in the six months prior to the survey.
Sian Fisher, CEO of the CII, said: “If we think we are going to go through our whole lives avoiding a time when we fit the definition of ‘vulnerable’, we are kidding ourselves.
“Financial circumstances, ill health, disability and life events all mean that we are almost certain to go through a period in our lives when we are vulnerable. This research underlines how important it is for us all to have an inclusive approach to all customers, and not treat vulnerability as an ‘add on’ that only applies to