Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive

Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is calling for an end to consumer vulnerability and more access to financial services in its plans for 2017.

In a speech today (18 April) by Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, the publication of its corporate documents and its role and goals were all outlined.

Bailey says: “We will prioritise consumers who are unable to exercise choice or have restricted access to financial services they need over those who can exercise such choices, whether or not they choose to do so. We recognise that vulnerability itself changes during any individual’s life, determined by more than one factor.”

It plans to unveil a “consumer approach” document to deal with this, which will “reflect consumers’ growing responsibility for their own financial choices, at a time when these choices are becoming more complex”.

He also noted the “social and economic implications of an ageing population, together with factors like continuing low interest rates and a rise in less secure forms of employment” – which are “likely to have major implications for the pensions and retirement income sector”.

Its “business plan” explains how it “will encourage firms to address this growing need”.

This paladin-like pose of being protector follows on from the FCA’s earlier quest – where it set out proposed new rules to help customers who are in persistent debt. It found “significant concerns” about the scale, extent and nature of problem credit card debt.

Last month, the House of Lords Financial Exclusion Committee called for the UK Government, the FCA and banks to give greater priority to tackling financial exclusion.

Like many initial FCA messages or speeches, it can be a bit vague. However, all the corporate documents are on its website, and in the next year it will publish a number of documents that will give a “clearer explanation of how we carry out our main activities” – such as authorising and supervising of firms, enforcement, and its competition role.