In 2016 the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and The UK Cards Association commissioned research to help their members identify and support customers in vulnerable circumstances. The project focused not only on identifying the challenges that frontline and collections staff encounter in their day-to-day dealings with such customers, but also on developing commercially realistic interventions to address these issues.
The project was led by Chris Fitch (PFRC Honorary Research Fellow), who is an expert in the field of mental health and debt from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience’s doctoral programme at Kings College. Jamie Evans (PFRC Research Associate) worked alongside Chris on the design, analysis and delivery of the research, while Colin Trend, a specialist money adviser at Plymouth Focus Advice Centre and expert on consumer vulnerability, also collaborated on the project.
A number of outputs related to this have been published. These:
- Provide insights on the practices and challenges faced by staff when working with customers in vulnerable situations.
- Suggest practical and commercially realistic solutions to these challenges that frontline staff can incorporate into their daily work, which organisations can build into their wider policy and culture, and which will ultimately help identify, engage with and support customers who find themselves in a vulnerable situation.
- Share these solutions with the wider credit and collections sector in a clear, recognisable, and easy to implement format building upon an earlier report ‘Lending, Debt Collection and Mental Health: Twelve Steps for Treating Potentially Vulnerable Customers Fairly’.
- Provide a benchmark where the overall sector and individual firms currently ‘sit’ in relation to their work on vulnerability. This will allow the sector to reflect on the work they have undertaken, as well as providing a means to measure progress.
Our work on vulnerability will continue in partnership across the advice, credit and collections sectors, and we look forward to sharing further outputs from this work.
In the meantime, if you are interested to learn more about our research please get in touch with either Chris or Jamie via our contacts page.