There have many quite a few interesting consultation papers released by the FCA recently. Dealing with a wide range of subjects. Some have been discussed in the press as they are important subjects close to the hearts of consumers.
One that hit the public imagination was CP 17/24 – information about current accounts. This refers to promoting effective competition by enabling customers to make effective comparisons between providers of personal current accounts (PCAs) and business current accounts (BCAs) based on service, and by incentivising providers to improve service and performance.
The FCA wants to see information available to customers about the service provided by individual firms, which is rarely provided in a consistent manner that allows comparison between firms. The FCA wants to make it easier for customers to access and assess information about providers’ service, enabling them to make informed comparisons and choose the provider that best suits their needs. The FCA also wants to incentivise BCA and PCA providers to improve their service and performance.
To achieve this, the FCA proposes to require BCA and PCA providers to publish service information in the following categories:
- Account opening – clear information about the account opening process and information about how long it takes to open an account and gain access to specified services including overdraft funds
- Time taken to replace a lost, stolen or stopped debit card and to organise third party access to a PCA under a power of attorney
- Service availability – identifying how and when various services can be accessed and whether 24-hour help is available for certain matters
- Major incidents – information about the number of major operational and security incidents that firms have reported to the FCA, by channel
The service information we propose to require firms to publish includes both:
- standing data – information firms will be required to publish and keep up to date, for example about the times of day when certain services are available
- service metrics – things that we will require firms to measure or count and publish every quarter
The FCA proposes to require firms with more than 70,000 relevant PCAs or 15,000 BCAs to publish this service information. These thresholds apply per brand. The FCA does not consider it proportionate to require firms to publish service information for smaller brands. However, if they choose to publish service metrics they will need to comply with those rules to ensure meaningful and consistent comparisons.
This should enable customers to choose the bank account most suitable to them based on a consistent standard of detail. This is in line with normal financial services expectation of customers being able to buy products on an informed basis.