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Older people’s financial needs ‘not being fully met’

Written by: Owain Thomas
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned the financial services industry might not be fully meeting the needs of older people.

It believes this can result in exclusion, poor customer outcomes and potential harm, and said there was “scope for financial services firms to do more”.

As part of the regulator’s Ageing Population Project, it found these issues were being driven by a range of interrelated causes, including policies and controls not designed around consumer needs and the unintended consequences of product and service design.

Vulnerable customers

One of the key findings uncovered in the research related to dealing with older people as potentially vulnerable customers.

The FCA noted that while older consumers were not necessarily vulnerable, they were more likely than other groups to experience vulnerability at some point – whether temporarily or permanently.

“This is particularly the case for those aged over-75,” it stated.

“In line with the aims of the FCA’s mission, this paper has focused on the issues where regulation and financial services firms can play a role and make a difference.

“There is scope for financial services firms to do more. The FCA has set out some ideas for firms to consider in ways that fit their business models, such as looking at product and service design, customer support, and reviewing and adapting strategies,” it noted.

Engaging with products

The regulator also considered how older people accessed and engaged with certain products and sectors. It noted that issues related to these areas would require action from multiple parties to address over time.

“In many cases, solutions do not lie within the remit of any one party – including the FCA, or the regulated firms that it supervises,” it said.

“The FCA has considered who might be best placed to address the gaps to improve financial markets for older people including other bodies who might be better placed to take forward topics outside the FCA’s remit.”

FCA director of life insurance and financial advice, Linda Woodall, said: “We hope that today’s paper will help drive further positive innovation in the interests of older consumers.

“Our findings highlight the extensive public policy challenge requiring action from firms, government, regulators and other parties to bring about improvements for older consumers who use financial services.”

The FCA anticipates a further review in three to five years on how the financial services industry is adapting to meet the needs of older consumers.

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