In conversation with COEO: Collections regulations, now and tomorrow​

Obviously, regulation is extremely important for our industry so, in this blog post we’ll share what industry feedback is telling us, where we’re at, and where the regulators might turn their focus next. Working across several different sectors (and a few different regulators), the wording might be slightly different, but the theme is always the same; ‘look after the customer’.

What’s happening with the FCA?

The FCA Rules surrounding debt collection in the UK are well established – which means that firms operating within this regulated environment have had a chance to embed and work them into a robust set of policies and procedures. 

A recent extension to overarching conduct is the release of the FCA’s Consumer Duty. Built on four outcomes, with the ultimate aim of achieving good and fair customer outcomes, firms have 12 months to implement the duty into their policies and procedures.

And BNPL is to fall under the banner soon?

The Woolard Review, published in 2021, set out 26 recommendations for the FCA to regulate this sector. We’ve already seen intervention by the FCA using the customer rights act (on BNPL) leading to a review of charges and consequent communications. 

This has come as no surprise to most companies within this market – and many have developed processes in mind of the FCA’s guidelines and regulations even without facing direct regulation.

Regulation in the energy market

There is a tremendous amount of volatility in the energy sector, which has seen price caps being lifted and dozens of companies entering administration (26 firms from Aug – March). Large firms requested government support and growing pressure has been placed on customer budgets due to mounting price increases.

There was a big balancing act for the regulator and government to protect both firms and consumers from excessive costs, which resulted in the new PM at the time of writing, Liz Truss freezing energy bills at an average of £2,500 a year for two years.

We should continue to have one eye on regulatory impact on collections with mounting pressure from customers requesting longer and bespoke payment arrangements.

And other markets?

A large focus needs to remain on customer outcomes, this should be a cross industry goal. We need to drive robust and applied procedures that make a difference. At the time of writing this blog the other ‘spinning plate’ impacting our industry was the leadership change in government – and the definite bearing the ‘cost of living crisis’ is having.