Jonathan Davidson, the Financial Conduct Authority’s Executive Director of Supervision – Retail and Authorisations, spoke at the Mortgage Forbearance Webinars on October 8.
In this speech, he urged firms to ensure they had appropriate systems in place for monitoring the activities of employees who might be working remotely during the pandemic, or under longer term arrangements.
Equally important is ensuring that remote workers are appropriately trained, as they still need to be competent to carry out their role, even though they might not have been able to receive face-to-face training or to shadow more experienced colleagues in the workplace.
Mr Davidson said:
“I’m sure you will have been actively planning how you will resource these customer-supporting functions. And how you will ensure that your training and competence frameworks are effective, and how your staff are monitored, and mentored. It is a demanding job at any time to be on the frontline, supporting customers in financial distress. It must be so much harder for staff when they are working from home, particularly if they don’t feel adequately supported. So, they need to be supported, so that in turn customers are treated well.”
The FCA director added that it was also important that firms had arrangements to supervise their third-party suppliers and service providers.
A significant portion of the speech was also devoted to the support that mortgage and credit providers will need to continue to provide to borrowers affected by Covid-19. Mr Davidson highlighted that, for different borrowers, the period for which they will experience a loss of income will be of varying duration, and that, for every affected borrower, the support the firm provides will need to be reviewed regularly, as the customer’s circumstances might alter.
He then urged firms to prioritise providing support to customers who were at the greatest risk of harm, and to ensure that the support provided was tailored to the borrower’s individual circumstances.
Other key messages from Mr Davidson were that any communications from firms to affected borrowers must be clear, and that customers must be signposted to external support services where this is relevant.
In conclusion, the FCA director stressed that firms must monitor the outcomes their affected customers receive and fix any deficiencies, so these customers are put back into the right position. Finally, he said the regulator would be keeping a close eye on firms’ activities in this area:
“Over the coming months, we will be looking at how your firms have adapted to the challenges, and the outcomes received by consumers through supervisory ‘multi-firm’ work.
“If we see significant issues, we will intervene. But we understand that this is a difficult environment, so where it is evident that firms are trying to do the right thing, we want to be able to work with you to ensure that issues are resolved.”
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