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Millions unhappy with financial services as new consumer duty looms

Less than half of UK adults have confidence in the UK financial services industry and a mere 36 per cent of people believe most firms are honest and transparent in the way they treat them.

An estimated 7.4 million people tried – but failed – to get hold of their financial services providers while more than three million people who successfully managed to contact a firm said they could not get the information or support they wanted.

The bleak customer service outlook comes from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s Financial Lives survey of more than 19,000 people across the UK.

Its findings come ahead of a new consumer duty, which comes into force on Monday, and which is designed to deliver good outcomes for consumers the FCA says, which, in turn, will help to improve trust and confidence in the financial services sector.

The duty compels firms to provide “helpful and responsive” customer service allowing people to complain or switch and cancel products or services in the same way and as easily as they were able to buy them.

Companies will also be required to explain and justify prices as well as help customers to make good decisions “through communications people can understand, provided at the right time”.

Sheldon Mills, of the FCA, said: “Our consumer duty will guide our ongoing work to improve the way firms provide customer support –getting through to your provider is the starting point for receiving help, so we will be working with them to improve in this area.”

“Times like this show why it’s important people get the support they need as more people are likely turning to their financial services providers for help.”

The survey confirmed that more people are using digital banking and other online services, with almost nine in 10 adults now banking online.

The FCA said it recognised that many people are still heavy users of cash (6 per cent or 3.1 million) and reliant on face-to-face services. It said it was taking on new powers, via the Financial Services and Markets Act, to ensure firms meet all their customers’ cash needs.

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