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New guidance from the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) aims to ensure that financial firms are treating their vulnerable customers fairly.

The FCA published final guidance that aims to drive improvements in the treatment of vulnerable consumers so that they achieve the same kinds of results as other clients by clarifying the regulator’s expectations for firms.

Recent research from the FCA found that 27.7 million adults in the U.K. display characteristics of vulnerability, such as low financial resilience, poor health and negative events. These vulnerabilities can impair their decision-making or put them at greater risk of mis-selling, the regulator said.

As a result, the FCA said that firms must understand these risks and ensure that their customers are treated fairly.

“This needs to happen through the whole customer journey from product design through to customer engagement and communications,” it said.

The regulator said it will use the new guidance to hold firms to account for their treatment of vulnerable customers.

“Protecting vulnerable consumers remains a key focus for us and given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that firms get this right,” said Nisha Arora, director of consumer and retail policy at the FCA.

“The guidance being announced today will help ensure vulnerable consumers are treated fairly and achieve outcomes as good as other consumers,” she said. “While some firms have made significant progress, we want to see all firms across sectors taking steps to understand and respond to the needs of their customers, particularly those who are most vulnerable to harm.”