The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and The UK Cards Association have launched a new guide that helps finance providers identify and support customers in vulnerable situations during the credit application process.
Developed by the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC), in partnership with both associations, Vulnerability: a guide for lending, uses the experiences of 1,666 staff across 18 finance providers to address the issues they face when managing credit applications from vulnerable customers.
The guide focuses on supporting customers with a mental capacity limitation that may affect their decision-making abilities. A new protocol – BRUCE – has been designed to help staff look for clues in a customer’s behaviour or speech which could indicate a problem with remembering, understanding, communicating or evaluating the credit options being discussed, and the customer making a decision about entering into a credit agreement.
Stephen Sklaroff, director general of the FLA, said: “Vulnerability: a guide for lending offers the industry a comprehensive set of measures to support customers who are applying for credit – whether face-to-face, over the phone, through an intermediary or online.
“This guide, and the parallel report on debt collection published in March, provide the industry with an effective way to help identify and support vulnerable customers across the full credit cycle.”
Graham Peacop, chief executive of The UK Cards Association, said: “Being in a vulnerable situation should not, in itself, be a barrier to accessing credit, but it is vital such customers receive additional support throughout the application process to ensure they can understand, remember and evaluate information about the product.
“This guide provides a valuable new resource for all credit providers to help them give that essential support to customers and secure the right outcome for the individual.”
The publication is the second part of a research project led by Chris Fitch and Jamie Evans of the PFRC. In March the team produced a report on supporting vulnerable customers during the debt collection process.