Coronavirus; working through it 

Like the rest of the country, the LSB has had to quickly adapt to the fact that coronavirus has and will continue to dominate 2020. Alongside the enormous strain it is placing on the country’s health and care services, COVID-19 has placed huge pressure on the LSB’s registered firms and the wider financial services sector.

With this in mind, the LSB has prioritised assisting our registered firms in addressing coronavirus, with the intention of helping them deliver fair customer outcomes at such a challenging time. To assist in doing this, the LSB’s Insight & Support team has begun a three-part series focusing on the considerations for areas impacted by COVID-19 such as authorised push payment (APP) scams, vulnerability, and SME financial difficulty.

Examples of some of the questions we will explore in our three-piece thought series are:

Authorised push payment scams

  • What can firms do if the number of scams increase whilst investigator staff numbers diminish through illness? Will firms’ ability to prevent scams, for example, by using the branch network to support and educate customers, be impacted due to reduced opening hours or staff shortages?
  • The rules to stay at home and socially isolate will likely lead to an increase in online transactions, both in relation to banking and everyday payments, as customers cannot go to their local branch. A new cohort of customers interacting online poses an opportunity for scammers. Can the risk of this be mitigated?
Vulnerable customers
  • Coronavirus has a disproportionate impact on the elderly and vulnerable, specifically those with pre-existing medical conditions. The Government’s guidance for those groups is to self-isolate for 12 weeks and follow social distancing measures in order to reduce the risk to them. What can registered firms do to identify and assist potentially vulnerable customers during this crisis, and should the approach be different to that taken during business as usual operations?
  • Bookmaker stores have been ordered to close. Will this lead to firms seeing an increase in online gambling transactions, including more interactions from problem gamblers? How can firms monitor this and best assist those customers?
SME financial difficulty
  • The closure of all non-essential businesses including shops, restaurants and entertainment venues has had an immediate and extreme impact on SMEs. Many SMEs will now be in financial difficulty. How are firms dealing with the increased need for engagement with their customers as a result of coronavirus and what is the best way to assess who needs the most urgent assistance?
  • Many SME customers will have relationship managers who know the business and are there to identify and assist those in financial difficulty. How does a relationship management model work within a policy of social distancing or if there is a large increase in the number of RMs off sick at any one time?

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