" It’s becoming increasingly difficult for vulnerable customers to access certain financial services."
The Treasury Committee has launched an inquiry into access to financial services with a particular focus on vulnerable consumers.
The Committee will examine whether certain groups of consumers are excluded from obtaining a basic level of service from financial services providers and whether vulnerable consumers pay more for products.
The Committee is seeking evidence on training and practices at financial services firms and is considering the merits of having a ‘duty of care’ for providers and whether this would increase protection for vulnerable customers.
It will also examine how regulators assess whether providers are offering products at a fair price and whether they are complying with equalities legislation.
Recent research from Prudential found that advisers are increasing support for vulnerable clients. Its data found that 72% of firms have specific rules in place for advisers dealing with older and vulnerable clients and 47% train staff to spot signs of cognitive impairment.
Nicky Morgan MP, chair of the Treasury Committee, said: “Vulnerability, as defined by the FCA, is where someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.
“With customers expected to take more responsibility for their financial planning and resilience, bank branches closing, and the number of free-to-use ATMs falling, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for vulnerable customers to access certain financial services.
“The Committee will examine the practicality of the FCA’s definition, the effectiveness of attempts by financial services providers to prevent increased financial exclusion, and whether a premium is placed on products such as travel insurance for vulnerable consumers.
“As part of this inquiry, we’ll be holding sessions outside of Parliament to hear from vulnerable consumers who have interacted with financial services providers.”