Improving outcomes with the Consumer Duty Regulation

How can buy-side retail financial firms improve consumer outcomes and the wider economy?

The FCA introduced new guidelines, rules and policies last year in 2022, comprised as the Consumer Duty Regulation, to ensure products and services are delivered at fair value to customers, as well as a better standard of care. With the recent rise of the cost-of-living crisis, consumers are struggling and are faced with difficult times ahead, including the UK economy. This Duty lays out responsibilities for Boards and senior management within firms, to implement this regulation, to not only benefit consumers, but the wider economy.


In a recent review published by the FCA in January 2023, the FCA identified key areas where firms are meeting obligations, and where areas of improvement are required. As stated in the Policy Statement PS22/9, the FCA would like to see firms make full use of the implementation period of this three-year strategy, to implement the Duty effectively, and that by October 2022, ‘firm’s boards (or equivalent management body) should have agreed their plans for implementing the Duty’ and to have evidenced this, to ‘challenge their plans to ensure they are deliverable and robust’ (Consumer Duty Implementation Plans, FCA, Jan 2023).


This review published by the FCA, helps firms understand the FCA’s expectations, and to work together with firms to ensure the Duty is implemented effectively. The review identified that firms are behind with the implementation of the Duty and need to improve their approach. Three key areas were suggested where firms can focus on for the second half of the implementation period, the first being ‘effective prioritisation of the Duty’ – in order to reduce risk of poor customer outcomes, and to prioritise the implementation plans. The second ‘embedding substantive requirements’, on how firms are over-confident on their plans, and instead should focus on the substantive requirements laid out in the Duty, and review ‘their products and services, communications and customer journeys, they identify and make the changes needed to meet the new standards’ (Consumer Duty Implementation Plans, FCA, Jan 2023). The third area of focus identified was on how firms should work together with other firms, to share information in the distribution chain, to ensure the Duty can be implemented effectively and consistently (Consumer Duty Implementation Plans, FCA, Jan 2023).

What can retail financial firms do to improve and what are the implications of not meeting the Duty requirements?

From the FCA’s recent review, it has been determined there are still many areas by which firms are falling short, which raises the risks of not meeting the Duty obligation deadlines. From the governance aspect, the FCA’s review has established that the board members and senior management teams within firms, have no clearly defined and developed plans in place, neither timings, and lack engagement. When it comes to the plans compiled by firms, the project requirements and timelines are unclear, there is a lack of detail, explanation, and evidence on the implementation of the Duty, including how a firm’s purpose, culture and values are in alignment with the Duty.


Additionally, the review identified that firms also fail to define risks, and internal/external dependencies such as resource planning, budgeting, and technology resources, including working together with third parties, which as a result may impact the implementation plans. Further, firms fail to distinguish mitigation strategies and approaches or methodologies for conducting reviews and gap analysis of products, services, communications, and customer journeys, as part of implementation of the Four Outcomes within the Duty. Firms have also failed to provide in-depth details into the types of data they will require, and how this will be tested, and used, to better understand the customer outcomes, which is another key part of the Duty requirements.

How can Leading Point help to simplify this process?

At Leading Point, our team of expert practitioners can assist the board members and senior managers within retail financial firms, to conduct more in-depth project scope and planning, gap analysis, as well as workflow strategies, and assist to define clear methodologies and approaches to implement the Duty policies and rules. We are fully-equipped to help any organisation that is looking to improve their implementation plans for meeting the Consumer Regulations, to ensure deadlines are met, whilst reducing costs, and risks, with defined mitigation strategies, and enhanced quality of consumer data. This will not only better equip firms with meeting the Duty obligations, but will help to accelerate new business growth, to ensure high-quality products and services are delivered to consumers.

Appendix and Additional Information on the Duty Regulation


What is the Consumer Duty Regulation?

The FCA introduced the Consumer Duty Regulation, and published the Finalised Guidelines FG22/5, along with the Policy Statement PS22/9 in July 2022, which is a ‘standard of care firms should give to customers in retail financial markets’ (FG22/9, p.3).


The FCA states that the purpose of the Consumer Duty (‘the Duty’) is to provide ‘a fairer basis for competition’, to help ‘boost growth and innovation’ (What firms and customers can expect from the consumer duty and other regulatory reforms, FCA (Sept, 2022)).


The Duty is comprised of three key areas: A Consumer Principle; the Cross-Cutting Rules; and the Four Outcomes (FG22/9, p.3). Each of these three key areas focus on how firms should deliver suitable products and services, as well as good outcomes to consumers.


Which firms and who will it impact?

The FG22/5 Guidelines state that the Duty applies ‘across retail financial services’, and that ‘firms should review all examples in this guidance and consider how they may be relevant to their business models and practices’ (FG22/5).


As stated in the FG22/5 Guidance, it is the firms responsibility to identify which rules and principles are applicable to their firm, and ‘what they are required to do’ (FG22/5).


What is the timeline of this Regulation?

It has been proposed for the Duty to be enforced in two-phase implementation periods, the first being by the end of July 2023, whereby the Duty will apply to new and existing products and services that remain for sale or open for renewal, and the second date is by July 2024, whereby the Duty will come fully into force, and will apply to all closed products and services (PS22/9).


The following timeline has been extracted from the Policy Statement – Implementation Timetable (PS22/9):

Implementation Period
Firms’ boards (or equivalent management body) should have agreed their implementation plans and be able to evidence they have scrutinised and challenged the plans to ensure they are deliverable and robust to meet the new standards. Firms should expect to be asked to share implementation plans, board papers and minutes with supervisors and be challenged on their contents.
End of October 2022
Manufacturers should aim to complete all the reviews necessary to meet the four outcome rules for their existing open products and services by the end of April 2023, so that they can:
• Share with distributors by the end of April 2023 the information necessary for them to meet their obligations under the Duty (e.g., in relation to the price and value, and products and service outcomes)
End of April 2023
Manufacturers should:
• Identify where changes need to be made to their existing open products and services to meet the Duty and implement these remedies by the end of July 2023
End of July 2023
The Duty will apply to all new products and services, and all existing products and services that remain on sale or open for renewal. This gives firms 12 months to implement the new requirements on the bulk of retail financial products and services, benefiting the majority of consumers
End of July 2023
The Duty will come fully into force and apply to all closed products and services. This extra 12 months will help those firms with large numbers of closed products and will also help mitigate some of the wider concerns firms raised about the difficulty of applying the Duty to these products (see Chapter 3).
End of July 2024

How should firms implement the Consumer Duty Regulation?

According to the Guidance (FG22/5), it is a firm’s responsibility to identify which policies and rules apply and what they will be required to do (FG22/5). In addition to this, the Guidance has dedicated Chapter 10, on the Culture, Governance and Accountability that the Duty sets out for firms to give their customers. This is so that firms shift their focus on customer outcomes, and to ‘review the outcomes of their customers to ensure they are consistent with the Duty’ (PS22/9).

The Guidance (FG22/5) states the following:

  • The rules require firms to ensure their strategies, governance, leadership, and people policies (including incentives at all levels) lead to good outcomes for customers. The rules also make clear that we expect customer outcomes to be a key lens for important areas, such as Risk and Internal Audit.
  • A firm’s board, or equivalent governing body, should review and approve an assessment of whether the firm is delivering good outcomes for its customers which are consistent with the Duty, at least annually.
  • Individual accountability and high standards of personal conduct in firms will ensure that firms are meeting their obligations under the Duty.

The Guidance (FG22/5) outlines four important drivers of culture that firms will need to ensure they deliver on from: Purpose; Leadership; People; and Governance. The Duty will also hold senior managers accountable via the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SMCR) (FG22/5). A firm’s board will be responsible for the submission of a Board Report, which will be comprised of an assessment of whether the ‘firm is delivering good outcomes for its customers which are consistent with the Duty’ (FG22/5). Firms will also be required to monitor their outcomes, with a key focus of the Duty requiring firms to ‘assess, test, and understand’ and be able ‘to evidence the outcomes their customers are receiving’ (FG22/5), thus firms will be required to identify relevant sources of their data, to ensure they are consistent with meeting the obligations of the Duty, to their customers.