FCA ready to protect customers amid Covid-19 outbreak

The FCA has issued a statement indicating it is “ready to take any steps necessary” to ensure customers are protected and markets continue to function well amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The regulator said it is working closely with the Government, the Bank of England, the Payment Systems Regulator and all its firms, and that it has significant resources focused on its response.

The FCA called on its firms to be clear and transparent to provide support as consumers and small businesses face increasing challenges during the outbreak, adding that it expects firms to manage their financial resilience and actively manage their liquidity. Firms have been encouraged to report to the FCA immediately if they believe they will be in difficulty.

In terms of mortgages, which the FCA suggested represent “many consumers’ major financial commitment”, the regulator indicated it had been “encouraged” by the actions of some lenders in granting flexibility on mortgage payments as a way of protecting consumers.

“We will be discussing with the industry and updating approaches mortgage providers may take to assisting their customers in the coming days,” the FCA statement read.

Responding to the FCA, UK Finance CEO, Stephen Jones, said: “This latest update provides welcome guidance for firms in addition to the swift and continuous actions already taken by the UK public authorities and the industry during these unprecedented times.

“The FCA’s steps to help minimise demand on the industry’s existing capacity in the short-term means that our focus can be pointed toward customer-care strategies and the systems changes in organisations needed to facilitate this, helping support the real economy and protecting the resilience of the financial system.

“The banking and finance industry will continue to work with the government and regulators over the coming weeks and months to ensure the industry is fully able to prioritise first and foremost on supporting customers to manage their financial needs flexibly and effectively.”

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