Customers are at the heart of our business. Our purpose is to pay the pensions of our policyholders and deliver the best possible service to them. A large part of this means delivering a flexible service that meets the needs of all our customers, whatever their personal circumstances. The FCA’s Occasional Paper on Consumer Vulnerability highlighted several very important factors when dealing with customers, particularly the need to protect those in vulnerable circumstances.
The FCA defines a vulnerable customer as “someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care”. Anyone can become vulnerable at any time. Vulnerability can be temporary or permanent and firms themselves can make the vulnerability worse due to their actions or processes.
Some of the factors that may indicate vulnerability are:
Age: Younger people may be less financially experienced, while older generations may experience multiple challenges such as ill-health or physical impairment.
Health: This can be physical, mental, severe, temporary or long term and can make customers more vulnerable.
Personal circumstances: Financial difficulties, bereavement or low numeracy, literacy or English language skills can increase vulnerability.
How can we help?
While PIC has an overarching Vulnerable Customer Policy, it is our administration team who are key to making sure we identify and help any of our policyholders that are vulnerable. We are very aware that our customer base has a large number of potential vulnerable customers, and so take our responsibility to care for people in this situation very seriously.
All staff are trained to look out for signs of vulnerability and are empowered to treat every customer as an individual - being able to assess the best way to help each person, including signposting other organisations that could assist further.
We are happy for our customers to contact us in any way they feel comfortable, offering multiple channels including on-line, post, telephone or face-to-face if required. We make sure all our communications are clear and jargon free. That’s why we worked with the plain English campaign to make sure that all our correspondence carries their Crystal Mark for clarity.
We actively seek feedback too. We carry out multiple surveys to really understand how our customers feel and what we could do better.