Why consumer duty is all about brand purpose – and what you can do about it

Consumer duty regulation isn’t as black and white as previous regulations like MiFID 2 and RDR. It’s a set of guiding principles that firms should follow to ensure good customer outcomes. But, this also makes it trickier in many ways. Research shows many firms are still working out the scope – because who knows what will be the best customer outcome in 5 years’ time?

Financial markets change rapidly, and no one has a crystal ball. For example,  someone with a low threshold for loss might have put their money in gilts in 2021. But more than £150bn has been wiped off the value of UK gilts since the start of 2022, the biggest fall in more than 30 years – with a 10% drop between Jan and April this year – pretty unprecedented. No modelling out there would have indicated a bandwidth of this  20% loss over a few years. I could cite loads of similar unprecedented event market changes, but you get the idea that – when it comes to financial matters and life events – they’re difficult to predict.

So, all we’re saying is advice and consumer outcomes are based on best intentions – with the information and insight you have to hand. Ultimately, you can’t legislate against the market. This is why we’ve come to the conclusion that consumer duty is all about intent (or what FCA calls ‘principles’) – and why so many firms are asking us for our help with transforming their brand strategy and purpose to ensure that consumer outcomes are at the heart of this.

If a business’s sole purpose is to make money, this will lead to bad outcomes for the customer. It’s also less likely to succeed as it won’t motivate your staff, breeding more issues like increased employee turnover. The only way to lead to better outcomes is through mutually beneficial relationships – based on purpose and authenticity. In this blog, we offer some tips on how you can use consumer duty to infuse purpose throughout your organisation.

What we cover

Infusing purpose throughout your organisation

To truly comply with consumer duty and become a more successful brand, the first thing firms need to do is ensure their brand’s foundations are purpose-driven — and that this purpose is reflected throughout the company’s culture.

If you haven’t seen it before, get inspired by watching Simon Sinek’s YouTube chat on the Golden Circle and the power of ‘why’ – it’s eye-opening! Essentially, his mantra is that business leaders must start with ‘why’ — they should know how their product solves their customers’ issues by clearly articulating their purpose and defining how they live that purpose.

Transforming purpose into action

By integrating consumer duty standards into the core of your company, you can emphasise the importance of generating positive outcomes for customers at every opportunity. Putting customers at the heart of everything you do should already be a priority — embedding it within your company’s purpose will solidify this mindset among employees over time.

For example, your purpose might be to help clients get more out of life in retirement. Your vision could be to inspire 50,000 conversations that help people make more informed choices about how they can finance their retirement. Then identify the values that align with this and set business goals and targets that reflect these – for instance, you can create an internal incentive program that rewards good customer outcomes, such as receiving positive reviews on platforms like Trustpilot.

Measuring progress and building authentic relationships

It’s crucial to measure your progress toward achieving your purpose. Establish proof points that not only serve as reasons to believe new clients but also check the compliance box for regulators. For example:

  • Allocate 50% of your monthly meetings to stories about how you’ve made customers happy. This will motivate and inspire your team.
  • Dedicate 10% of your business time to focus on how you can help customers achieve your vision, even if it doesn’t immediately lead to income. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Be proud of these actions. For example, in equity release advice, instead of treating it as a one-off transaction, stay in touch with clients to see how they are faring.
  • Consider hiring someone whose sole responsibility is to track and change structures to enhance the customer experience.
  • Create a clear purpose, believe in it, and strive to do good and be good. This will enable you to be passionate and authentic, which fosters effective communication and motivates people.

Remember, authenticity is key. Just as you wouldn’t want a relationship built solely on someone’s self-interest, you should build relationships with your clients based on genuine care, like authentic friendships. Ask yourself how you can be a good friend to your clients.

Consumer Duty and purpose: Final word

Aligning new standards with your brand’s purpose and strategy is the key to successfully implementing consumer duty. By embracing purpose and authenticity, you can forge meaningful connections with your clients and create an environment that fosters positive outcomes. Remember, it’s not just about compliance; it’s about nurturing relationships built on genuine care and mutual success. Let your purpose guide you on this journey toward exemplary customer service and you’ll likely find your brand and business will thrive as a result.