Not mincing words on preventing customer harm

This year I have forbidden myself from buying any mince pies until December. Those sweet, pastry-encrusted, treats are a particular weakness and one that retailers seem to attempt to tempt me with earlier each year – but far so good, I have remained strong – it is however a strong signal that the end of the year is starting to creep upon us.

There were two stories in particular that caught my eye his week

The first was the FCA proposal to ban debt packagers from earning referral fees. From my conversations this week, it did seem it was broadly welcomed by the industry. The FCA is clearly becoming increasingly assertive and proactive in its stance towards preventing customer harm… and, by joining the dots you have to wonder if this is a reflection and anticipation of future events impacting customers in the lending market.

The other story was what appeared to be a disagreement between Amazon and VISA, whereby Amazon gave notification to customers in the UK that VISA credit cards would no longer be accepted for payment from January 2022… all due to high transaction fees.

Now, this of course may all be positioning (the rates are not all that different) and an agreement will be thrashed out before then, but I was sat wondering if this was yet another symptom of the pandemic and attempts by companies to recover lost margin and revenue.

I have started to see similar behaviour in my own shopping basket recently. It does appear that inflationary pressures are building. Whilst interest rates have not increased in the UK yet, this is now widely expected. Combined with increased fuel cost it is all going to put increasing pressure on the poor consumer.

It is something we clearly need to think about and anticipate in our collections strategies and processes now… modelling these increased costs into affordability templates, working through the impacts on both lending and arrears volume, establishing options for customers.

I know we all really want this to be over, and sometimes if I close my eyes it feels as if it is ending… but headlines such as these could be pointing to it being just the end of the beginning… if the case, now the real work starts… getting ahead is going to be a priority.

So maybe not quite so cheery this week… time for a cup of tea, mince pie to get cracking tomorrow I think.

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