Category Archives: Financial Services Mystery Shopping

Consumer Credit Mystery Shopping

Rent to View Mystery Shopping

The Rent-to-Own Sector

With the FCA shifting its focus towards companies supplying in the Rent-to-Own  marketplace, high cost credit providers are continuing to attract the attention of the financial regulators.

So, is it now the right time for these high cost credit companies to focus on the customer first? After all, the rest of the financial services industry has faced a deeper level of scrutiny for a much longer period of time.

The number of consumers accessing high cost credit in the UK

 “In the UK, up to 400,000 people use rent-to-own firms to buy household appliances, paying the money back over three years.” Source BBC News

With such high numbers of people accessing these lines of consumer credit, it’s essential for compliance and arrears teams at these firms to take a pro-active approach in support of the customer.

If the high cost credit industry is to continue unrestricted, avoiding enforced price caps, then those supplying short term credit to consumers through lease agreements or rentals need to have a more inward looking philosophy.

rent-to-own-stats
Date Source: Citizens Advice Bureau

Providing clear communication on consumer credit

It’s time for the sector to be more diligent with customer communications, whether that’s transparency on contract terms, clarity on the overall cost of credit or termination fees. Helping customers to have a clear understanding of the product offer and the costs of purchase ensures that companies sell in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.

Staff play by far the biggest part in the way consumers interpret the information given. They are also the highest risk area when it comes to the consumer failing to understand what they are committing to. Making sure the correct affordability checks are conducted and that the customer has all the required information to make an informed decision should be standard.

Areas of customer risk for consumer credit providers

  • Clarity of Payment Terms
  • Termination Fees and right to cancel
  • Transparency of overall cost
  • Affordability checking
  • Contract Terms and the small print
  • Treatment when payments are missed

 Taking the right approach

By doing things in the right way, the benefits gained are not only for the consumer, they are also for the company. Making sure that complaints and arrears figures for consumer credit don’t form a bigger part of the business means that companies can avoid ratings downgrades, damaging newspaper articles and greater regulation from the FCA.

There will always be a demand for short term higher cost credit however it’s in everybody’s interest to make sure the customer doesn’t become distressed when gaining access to it.

 Mystery Shop Research for Consumer Credit Companies

Tern provide second line of defence mystery shop research to some of the biggest financial companies in the UK. We provide our clients with evidence based research in the form of digital mystery shop reports . These reports are feature rich and can include embedded audio, video and survey scoring.

For more information on how we can support your compliance and operations teams call us on 01939 235555

Will changes to UK Pensions mean we will still get the right advice from Financial Advisers?

With the recent changes to pensions coming into effect in  April do we really understand all the options available to us for our retirement planning? The answer for most of us is probably not, and  the amount of knowledge UK consumers have on the subject can vary hugely.

Financial Adviser Mystery Shopping Promotional Banner

At Tern we provide support to financial services firms by supplying mystery shoppers who are able present test scenarios to the financial advisers working on an institutions behalf. This can be an important protection measure for making sure your employees are giving appropriate pensions advice suited to the needs of the individual requesting it.

The financial adviser mystery shopping visits we conduct are usually recorded with covert audio devices. The evidence gathered can be from telephone calls, face to face home visits or appointment based fact finding. Allowing your risk and compliance teams to review first hand evidence of the conversations taking place can provide an important resource which allows for guided training and vetting on standards of the financial advice offered.

Catering for different individuals scenarios

Whether an individual is just starting out on his or her career path and considering their first pension choices or someone is nearing retirement and wants to find out about how the changes to annuity rules in 2015 affect them.

Couple getting pensions advice from financial adviser

The options for pensions can leave many of us who are uninformed on the subject confused. Getting good advice from an IFA or pensions specialist on your options whether you choose to take a lump sum payment, ‘uncrystallised funds pension lump sum’ (UFPLS) or  a lifetime annuity for example,  can make a big difference to an individuals’ future  standard of living.

Of course making the right decisions with a pension pot will be different for each of us and dependent upon circumstances and the options we may wish to take based on our a risk appetite. There are plenty of free websites that will offer generic advice when you search for retirement planning services that leave consumers unprotected. Making the choice to see a regulated financial adviser is an investment in the future and personal financial advice which makes specific recommendations against your circumstance has to be paid for.

Any products recommended  must be suited to the individuals’ needs, if they’re not,  then the consumer can complain about mis-selling to the firm the financial adviser works for.  If the complaint is turned down it can be taken to the financial ombudsman service.

Financial Adviser Mystery Shopping

Get in touch today to find out more about how Tern can support your firm with correct preventative measures and ensure that your financial advisers are offering clear and relevant advice based on range of different scenarios. Read more about our financial service mystery shopping visits for banks and building societies

Written by James Harper – Tern Consultancy Ltd – Linkedin  30/04/2015

Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit

Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit
Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit at Points of Sale

With confidence having returned to the UK High Street consumers are now spending with a little more gusto, Next Retail has reported strong growth and cheap credit has been cited as a reason. You can read a bit more about this in a report by the Telegraph’s Christopher Williams.  Whilst this is just one example and great news for UK business we should be mindful of the lessons learnt from the previous few years in the financial services sector. With store credit seeming to be more freely available how do we ensure that as consumers, we remain protected from our spending exuberance?  Mystery shopping how consumer credit is sold at your point of sale can be an important tool and can help to protect your business against poor sales practices. So is it time for you to consider mystery shopping consumer credit sales?

The offers at tills for store credit can seem appealing, but can carry risks for both consumers and companies alike. Consumers need presenting with the right information so that they are able to make informed decisions on the financial products they choose. As a financial product, store cards are still covered by the financial conduct authority  and it is important that any consumer credit in store is sold in the right way.

For some useful  information on consumer credit and the role of the FCA go to http://www.fca.org.uk/firms/firm-types/consumer-credit

As a company you can help prevent yourself from misselling and poor customer service by understanding the six Treating Customer Fairly outcomes (TCF)

Treating Customers Fairly and Mystery Shopping Consumer Credit Sales

  • Outcome 1: Consumers can be confident that they are dealing with firms where the fair treatment of customers is central to the corporate culture.
  • Outcome 2: Products and services marketed and sold in the retail market are designed to meet the needs of identified consumer groups and are targeted accordingly.
  • Outcome 3: Consumers are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed before, during and after the point of sale.
  • Outcome 4: Where consumers receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.
  • Outcome 5: Consumers are provided with products that perform as firms have led them to expect, and the associated service is of an acceptable standard and as they have been led to expect.
  • Outcome 6: Consumers do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers imposed by firms to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.

So when assessing your cashier staff in relation to the sales of consumer credit products you  can be confident of the above outcomes above.

Why don’t you ask yourself the following questions in relation to the sale of consumer credit at your points of sale.

  • Are your cashiers well informed on the sales of consumer credit?
  • Do they mislead the customer?
  • Do they explain the cooling off period?
  • Do they provide the customer with all the relevant information?

If the answer is no to any of the above it might be time to consider a mystery shopping programme. Mystery Shopping Companies can work with you to build an appropriate mystery shopper role play and  by conducting mystery shopping of consumer credit sales aligned to TCF outcomes, you can be confident that you are delivering products that serve both the consumer and company well in the long term.

Written by James Harper – Digital Sales & Marketing Manager – Linkedin Google+ 10/10/2014

Financial Services Mystery Shopping and the MMR

Countdown to the implementation of the Mortgage Market Review

With homebuyers reaching record highs are you ready?

New rules created by the Financial Conduct Authority will impact your business.

Make sure that you have a robust Mystery Shopping Programme in place.

As a business you may feel that you’re ready for most eventualities, but have you considered whether or not you have sufficient compliance and audit procedures in place ready for April. You may wish to analyse areas of conduct risk whilst at the same time gathering hard evidence for both internal audit/compliance departments and external regulatory bodies. Pre-emptive action will help your company to act in the best interests of your customers.

Questions you may wish to ask yourself as we approach April 2014:

  • Are the right affordability checks being performed on customers?
  • Are your staff offering advised or non-advised sales correctly?
  • Are you delivering the right information at the right time to the customer?
  • Do you Treat Your Customers Fairly (TCF)?

Providing excellence in all of these areas will help to minimise both your risk of engagement in mis-selling practices whilst giving you invaluable documentation which will assist you with your training and competency development. The ultimate goal should be to ensure that the customer is getting great service whilst ensuring that they are fully aware of what they are purchasing.

So how does Tern help you ensure you are meeting the requirements of the review?

For all of the scenarios above Tern, the financial services mystery shopping company specialists have the ability to gather and provide either written, audio or video evidence depending on your requirements. This is done by utilising our network of experienced Financial Services Mystery Shoppers to perform this function for you.

Tailoring your Mystery Shop Programme to help ensure responsible lending

The Mystery Shop programme that we will help you to build will ensure that all of these questions can be answered and that you are fully supported in the building of a robust second line of defence.

Evidence Gathering and Reporting

Compilation of evidence can be accessed through the Tern reporting platform with the ability to drill into detailed commentary on each individual financial services mystery shopper experience. We will help you to identify areas where you score poorly and make suggestions for remedial action. There will be no excuse for not being ready. Make preparations now to ensure that all of your processes and procedures are ready for April 2014. Contact us today for further information on conducting a Financial Services Mystery Shop Programme for your business.