FinTech North News and Regional FinTech Developments

Vulnerability in FinTech Forum

The northern FinTech community came together in Leeds on the 18th of April as part of UK FinTech week, to discuss the issue of consumer vulnerability and the different data sets, insights and considerations needed to shape this work

Hosted in partnership with global credit reference agency, TransUnion, at international law firm, Squire Patton Bogg’s dynamic event space, industry experts from a variety of sectors came together to discuss an operationally crucial, yet personal, topic

Joe Roche, General Manager at FinTech North kickstarted the session by welcoming attendees and thanking all of the organisations involved, before sharing FinTech North’s story, strategy, and upcoming events.

Joe then welcomed Lisa Meynell, Head of Sales – Digital Banking at TransUnion in the UK to the stage. She referenced TransUnion’s and FinTech North’s past collaboration on an event focused on consumer credit education, before sharing some of TransUnion’s current thinking when considering vulnerability as part of their strategy.

Defining vulnerability as a broad term that is likely to impact us either directly or indirectly at some stage of our lives, Lisa went on to discuss the Financial Conduct Authority’s four key categories of vulnerability, including life events and financial resilience. Emphasising the broad-reaching nature of vulnerability as a wider social issue.

Lisa shared a personal story about her own experience with a loved one going through financial vulnerability, relaying the message: “Not everyone who is vulnerable realises that they are.”

During the discussion, Lisa highlighted her appreciation for her loved one’s bank, stressing the great responsibility involved in financial service roles and being vigilant in spotting vulnerable behaviour. She went on to address the lack of accessibility in financial services and noted that people who are financially excluded have increased vulnerability of falling victim to scams.

Lisa noted that finance can be a very personal and emotional topic that many people are unlikely to want to speak out about and proposed that changes must be made in order to help customers open up about it. She emphasised the importance of loyalty and trust between financial organisations and consumers, solidified by personalised and tailored journeys.

Lisa also expanded on TransUnion’s current strategy for detecting vulnerability behaviours, including 22 financial stress indicators falling across five key themes. Referencing their newly founded partnership with the Vulnerability Registration Service (VRS), she highlighted data as being at the forefront of TransUnion’s decision making.

Next, Paul Anderson, Partner, Financial Services at Squire Patton Boggs shared a welcome keynote from the organisation, in which he referenced their previous work with FinTech North and shared a brief history of his organisation’s work, adding a legal and regulatory backdrop to the discussion.  

With expertise in consumer duty and regulatory approaches, Paul highlighted the importance of assessing customer vulnerability. He discussed upcoming updates following FCA guidance and the challenges of data storage in vulnerability contexts. Paul emphasised the need for effective policy implementation and raised questions about enforcement actions and legal complexities surrounding vulnerable customers.

A fireside chat between Helen Lord, CEO of the VRS , and Sam Newman, Senior Credit Consultant at TransUnion aimed to explore the link between non-financial and financial vulnerability, amidst a rapidly evolving world influenced by changing life situations such as the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis.

Helen introduced the VRS, a platform for individuals to register their vulnerabilities across a range of categories including finance, sharing that the organisation was born out of a need to address personal human experiences. She noted that vulnerability is not a new concept, but rather, society, financial services and regulators are recognising it more in recent times.

Sam provided insights from TransUnion’s financial perspective, emphasising the need to proactively address vulnerability rather than reactively seeking support too late. He outlined TransUnion’s approach to building a spectrum of financial vulnerability and utilising indicators to help identify patterns and engage with individuals before issues escalate. Overall, exploring practical strategies for identifying, understanding, and addressing vulnerability in both financial and personal realms.

In the “Protect” presentation by Chad Reimers, General Manager of Fraud and Identity Solutions, and Matt Richardson, Pre-sale Consultant for Fraud & ID at TransUnion, the focus was on creating trust and safeguarding against potential fraud and financial crime. They provided insights into the nuances of fraud and identity-related challenges and discussed TransUnion’s goals in mitigating vulnerability for individuals and organisations.

During the presentation, they outlined various types of fraud where vulnerability plays a crucial role and explored strategies for protection. Chad and Matt emphasised the importance of understanding the relationship between organisations and consumers, ensuring genuine interactions, and minimising fraud risk.

They highlighted the increasing prevalence of fraud in the UK and its impact on the economy, driven by factors such as personal data breaches and financial pressures. The presentation also delved into key fraud typologies linked to vulnerability, such as impersonation fraud and scams, and emphasised the importance of a holistic view of digital identity in spotting risks.

Additionally, they discussed the concept of balancing friction in onboarding journeys to help prevent fraud while maintaining a positive customer experience. The presentation concluded with insights into the ongoing battle against fraud, the importance of consumer responsibility and education, and the need for a layered strategy approach to combatting fraud risks.

Brian Moore, Account Director of Digital Banking at TransUnion, chaired the “Support” themed panel discussion, in which the speakers shared diverse experiences regarding financial vulnerability, emphasising the importance of empowering individuals and organisations to protect against fraud and financial crime.

Caroline Fowler, Director of Product and Presales at TransUnion, highlighted initiatives such as offering free credit scores to over 21 million consumers and TransUnion’s B2B consumer proposition.

Priyanka Singh, Head of Product for Open Banking at TransUnion, discussed leveraging transactional data and open banking to support vulnerable customers and increase financial resilience.

Lizzie Reed, Executive Director and Head of Credit Strategy at JPMorgan Chase, addressed vulnerability in credit strategies, emphasising the need to embed non-financial vulnerabilities and ensure robust governance.

Helen Handzel, Section Liaison Manager at StepChange, provided insights into the challenges faced by debt advice charities in supporting financially vulnerable clients, stressing the importance of accessibility and tailored action plans.

The panelists discussed the power of collaboration, the importance of data transparency and consent, and the role of personalisation in supporting consumers. They also addressed the complexities of identifying and managing vulnerability, advocating for ongoing dialogue and proactive measures to support vulnerable individuals effectively.

Joe closed the session, thanking participants for an enlightening and engaging session, before attendees spent the remainder of the session networking and discussing the insights that had been shared at the forum.

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