New guide to help the finance industry support vulnerable customers when applying for credit

14 June 2017

A new guide that helps finance providers identify and support customers in vulnerable situations during the credit application process is being launched today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) and The UK Cards Association.

Developed by the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC), in partnership with both Associations, Vulnerability: a guide for lending, uses the experiences of 1,666 staff across 18 finance providers to address the issues they face when managing credit applications from vulnerable customers.

The guide focuses on supporting customers with a mental capacity limitation that may affect their decision-making abilities. A new protocol – BRUCE – has been designed to help staff look for clues in a customer’s behaviour or speech which could indicate a problem with remembering, understanding, communicating or evaluating the credit options being discussed, and the customer making a decision about entering into a credit agreement.

Stephen Sklaroff, Director General of the FLA, said:

Vulnerability: a guide for lending offers the industry a comprehensive set of measures to support customers who are applying for credit – whether face-to-face, over the phone, through an intermediary or online. This guide, and the parallel report on debt collection published in March, provide the industry with an effective way to help identify and support vulnerable customers across the full credit cycle.”

Graham Peacop, Chief Executive of The UK Cards Association, said:

“Being in a vulnerable situation should not, in itself, be a barrier to accessing credit, but it is vital such customers receive additional support throughout the application process to ensure they can understand, remember and evaluate information about the product. This guide provides a valuable new resource for all credit providers to help them give that essential support to customers and secure the right outcome for the individual.”

The publication is the second part of a research project led by Chris Fitch and Jamie Evans of the PFRC. In March the team produced a report on supporting vulnerable customers during the debt collection process.

The report is available to download and the findings of the research have been provided to the memberships of the FLA and The UK Cards Association and will also be available to industry.

Notes to editors

  1. Vulnerability: a guide for lending has been financed by the FLA and The UK Cards Association.
  1. The guide can be downloaded from the FLA, The UK Cards Association, and the Personal Finance Research Centre.
  1. The following organisations have endorsed the guide and were represented on the research advisory group: the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), the Building Societies Association (BSA), the Money Advice Trust (MAT), the Credit Services Association (CSA) and the British Bankers’ Association (BBA).
  1. Chris Fitch is an expert in the field of mental health and financial services at the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol, and also works on the Money Advice Trust’s programme on vulnerability training and organisational change. The research team also included Jamie Evans from the Personal Finance Research Centre, Colin Trend, Project Manager, Plymouth Focus Advice Centre, and Tim Farmer, TSF Consultants.
  1. The Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) was established in 1998, and is an independent research centre based at the University of Bristol, which specialises in social research across all areas of personal finance, mainly from the consumer’s perspective.
  1. The UK Cards Association is the trade body for the card payments industry in the UK, representing financial institutions which act as card issuers and acquirers. As an Association, UK Cards is committed to delivering a card payments industry that is constantly focused on improved outcomes for the customer. The press office can be contacted on 020 3217 8436 or
  1. The Finance & Leasing Association is the leading trade body for the asset, consumer and motor finance sectors in the UK, and the largest organisation of its kind in Europe. In 2016, our members provided £118 billion of new finance. £88 billion of this was in the form of consumer credit to support purchases ranging from cars to household goods and £30 billion was provided to businesses and the public sector, representing almost a third of UK investment in machinery, equipment and purchased software in the UK last year. The FLA press office can be contacted on 020 7420 9656 or

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