In recent years the financial services industry has recognised the need to address financial domestic abuse and this new Financial Abuse Code of Practice, designed to take forward the Financial Services Vulnerability Taskforce recommendations, will bring increased awareness and better understanding of what abuse looks like for firms, colleagues, victims, potential victims and their families, ensuring more consistency in the support available for those who need it.
Financial abuse can take a variety of different forms within relationships, whether by intimate partners, family members or carers and may manifest itself as financial control, dependency, exploitation or sabotage. The Financial Abuse Code of Practice considers financial abuse scenarios including those within the context of partner relationships, domestic abuse but also the older population as a particularly relevant demographic at risk.
The Code of Practice has been developed with input from representatives from charities, victim support groups and government departments, alongside UK Finance’s Financial Abuse Project Group and Consumer Advisory Group³. Over the next 12 months, eleven of the largest high street firms have committed to implementing the voluntary Code with more firms expected to follow, raising awareness, training colleagues and introducing other initiatives to help victims regain more control over their finances.
As the Code is rolled out, victims will be able to have more informed conversations with their providers. The Code will provide greater awareness of the impact of abuse on their personal and financial circumstances, give enhanced support to regain control of their finances and greater consistency in the support individuals receive across providers. From the moment a customer discloses a case of financial abuse, they should be reassured they have made the right decision and that they will be supported throughout the process. Firms already have measures in place and assist victims based on their individual circumstances, however, the Code will bring greater awareness and consistency in response across the financial services industry.
Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance, said “Financial abuse does not discriminate – it can happen to anyone and whether you or a person you know is a victim of financial abuse, taking those first steps to seek help is very brave. The financial services industry can play a key role in helping combat financial abuse, offering support to victims to help them regain control of their money. This new voluntary Code provides further guidance for banks and building societies and, once rolled-out, will help raise awareness amongst staff so that victims of financial abuse can be confident that they will be treated sympathetically and positively in these particularly difficult circumstances.”
The following lists the high-level Vulnerability Taskforce principles which the Financial Abuse Code of Practice aims to cover. Further detail on what would need to be implemented as a minimum in order to meet each principle is listed in the Code of Practice⁴ (* further information provided in Notes to Editors).
- Raising awareness and encouraging disclosure
- Training of colleagues
- Identification and appropriate response
- Minimising the need to repeat one’s story in the same organisation
- Help to regain control of finances
- Signposting and referrals