In our October 2020 EQP Client Update we provided insight to our vulnerable customer strategy and how EQ is driving change in order to deliver on our purpose which is ‘to care for every customer and simplify each and every transaction’. 

We define a vulnerable customer as:

“A customer who, due to their personal circumstance, is particularly likely to experience financial disadvantage, loss or harm especially when we don’t act with the appropriate level of care.”

Over the past 12 months we have been focused on improving the experiences and outcomes for vulnerable customers by delivering EQ products and services that are accessible to all.

Identifying vulnerable customer characteristics

The six key characteristics of vulnerable customers are:

  1. Poor financial decisions – these customers are more likely to have mistakenly bought a product or service that isn’t appropriate for them because they misunderstand the features or the terms and conditions and can act rashly without thinking decisions through.
  2. Exclusion and disengagement – vulnerable customers are less likely to hold savings, insurance, pensions or investments. If services or products are perceived as too difficult to gain or manage then customers may not look into them and therefore may miss out on opportunities which improve their financial health.
  3. Access to products or services – customers with a disability may find it difficult to use certain channels – for example, a low digital capability may prevent a customer going online.

  4. Over indebtedness – these customers are more likely to fall behind on key household bills or repayments. Life events such as a bereavement, relationship breakdown or ill health can contribute to temporary loss of income and greater risk of debt.

  5. Scams and financial abuse – vulnerable customers are more likely to fall victim to scams. For example, older consumers who may be lonely, and customers who are less likely or able to check their bank account are less likely to spot unusual transactions.

  6. Stress and anxiety – inflexible processes may increase the effort or time it takes for a vulnerable customer to do business with a company - this can increase stress. Poor experiences may increase the stress and confusion a customer may experience when already dealing with unexpected life events or challenging circumstances.

What are we doing to support vulnerable customers?

Our vulnerable customer strategy has already delivered benefits for our customers, our colleagues and our community. Over the past 12 months we have achieved the following:

  • EQ Group has registered as a member of the TISA (The Investing and Saving Alliance) Vulnerability Working Group;
  • We held our inaugural Vulnerability Awareness week in September 2020, with over 600 colleagues attending the sessions;
  • We have refreshed our policies and procedures with vulnerable customers in mind, and created our vulnerable customer handbook;
  • Bespoke vulnerability training modules have been created and made available on bereavement, financial resilience and capability;
  • EQ Group have over 500 Dementia Friends following the dementia awareness campaign;
  • We have formed a number of partnerships including Better with Money (an independent financial education provider) and Healingclouds (an online mental wellbeing services provider) – to help us understand and meet the needs of vulnerable groups across our client base; and
  • We have launched our ‘Customer Accessibility and Inclusion Hub’ on the EQ intranet, which provides a wealth of useful tools and information to help support our colleagues in their roles.

From the Team at Equiniti