We all know how frustrating no-shows can be; as well as making you want to tear your hair out, they...
The role of appointment scheduling software in complying with the FCA’s Consumer Duty
In the financial services sector, recurring scandals involving opaque incentives and mis-sold products seem to unfurl every few years, prompting scrutiny and public dismay. Addressing these persistent challenges, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stepped into the fray with a proactive regulatory response: the Consumer Duty.
The essence of this new regulation is akin to introducing a kind of, watered-down, Hippocratic Oath for financial service providers. The FCA has, metaphorically, handed over a more robust regulatory toolset but left room for interpretation and adaptability. This suggests a subtle message, “We understand the intricate, dynamic nature of your product offering and the difficulty of crafting comprehensive rules. Nonetheless, the expectation is clear: your actions and strategies should be governed by the best interests of your clients.”
So, what does the introduction of this Hippocratic Oath-style regulation mean for the financial sector and advisors like you?
The general implication of the Consumer Duty is a mandated emphasis on demonstrable 'good outcomes' for customers. It's no longer merely about providing a product or service; firms must now furnish evidence that these are effectively meeting the needs of clients and delivering fair value. This regulation heralds a paradigm shift: a transition from transaction-focused practices towards an authentic customer-centric approach. It aims to inject a level of transparency into the industry that can counteract the adverse impacts of vague incentives.
What does the Consumer Dutymean to financial institutionswith appointment scheduling functions?
In the specific context of appointment scheduling, the Consumer Duty introduces significant changes.
Accessibility and flexibility
The financial sector, often bound by rigid schedules and formal protocols, is now tasked with prioritizing accessibility and flexibility. Advisors need to be available when it suits their clients best, catering to diverse schedules and unique circumstances as well as different abilities when it comes to accessing technologies.
This may necessitate unconventional appointment times or adopting a wider range of communication channels and accessible tools such as multichannel, accessible scheduling platforms. Sign In Scheduling is one of the few systems that can efficiently handle appointment requests through its online booking pages and automated phone booking flow in real-time, reducing the administrative burden.
Focus and information
Each appointment must have a clear purpose that the client understands. This might involve collecting preliminary information through automated pre-meeting surveys or booking questions, ensuring clients are well-prepared and advisors are well-informed ahead of meetings.
The more you can use automated tools to prepare the more likely you’re going to kick off a great, focused and value-additive meeting with clients. In turn, the increase in value-add will keep clients coming back.
Under the Consumer Duty, record keeping takes on a new level of importance. Firms are expected to keep comprehensive records detailing when meetings happened, what was discussed, and how the client felt about the outcomes. This systematic approach to data collection and analysis should become a core aspect of the advisory process under this regulation.
Scheduling and booking tools, such as Sign In Scheduling, allow you to do this by attaching notes to appointments as well as clients and by sending out automated follow-up feedback forms to measure satisfaction. This will aid in the systematic data collection and analysis that is now integral to the advisory process under this regulation.
This regulation is more than a simple incremental change or a new set of rules. It signifies an attempt for a transformational shift in the financial industry's culture. It paves the way for enhanced transparency, fairness, and a focus on the customer. This should in turn bring about a more trusted, client-oriented financial sector. An array of tools, including platforms stand ready to assist in this journey, to this new era of ultra-customer-centric financial services.
Read about Newbury Building Society, a trailblazer in customer experience, and their award-winning journey that started with appointment scheduling.