Treatment of Customers in Financial Difficulty

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HSBC Fined £6,280,100

The importance of having effective policies and procedures in place for treating customers fairly and managing those in arrears cannot be overstated. HSBC UK Bank plc and Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc (“HSBC”) are the latest firm penalised for failing to treat customers in arrears or with financial difficulties fairly.

Last week the FCA imposed a financial penalty of £6,280,100 on HSBC. The fine handed out by the regulator was initially £8,971,600. However, as HSBC agreed to settle the case, they qualified for a 30% discount. The hefty fine comes on top of the £185m already paid out to affected customers as part of HSBC’s redress program. The failings were identifed between 1 June 2017 and 31 October 2018 with HSBC not adequately considering the circumstances of those in financial difficulty.

Failures included not carrying out affordability assessments and taking disproportionate action against those with missed payments and/or in arrears. Therese Chambers, Joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight said “‘People must be able to trust their lenders to treat them fairly when in financial difficulty. By failing to do so, HSBC put 1.5 million people at risk of greater financial harm.”

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