What’s it all about?
On 1 April, 2014, the FCA take over the regulation of around 50,000 consumer credit firms from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT); this includes Harrington Brooks. The new regulations affect anyone that has taken out a loan, used a credit card, had difficulties repaying debts, or looked for advice on debt problems.
The FCA has stronger powers and more resources than the OFT to regulate the consumer credit industry. It’s a move that Harrington Brooks welcome. Much of the OFT guidance will be converted into FCA rules and the DEMSA Code of Conduct also continues to apply, which promotes consumers’ interests beyond the basic requirements of the law.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have three operational objectives:
- To secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers.
- To protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system.
- To promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
So how will this affect you, the customer?
The interests of the customer are the focus of the new regulations, which reflects Harrington Brooks’ belief and ethos, putting the customer at the heart of all that we do, helping people to manage their money and become free from debt in a way that is supportive, empathetic, efficient and professional.
It also means that we will work even harder to deliver our Customer Promise, which is to be honest, transparent and trustworthy in everything we do and the services we provide.
This becomes most apparent when we say:
- we aim to provide the most suitable, affordable advice, based on open communication and a diligent assessment of a customer’s financial circumstances, which is in their best interests and is appropriate to their circumstances,
- with fair and open pricing,
- delivered by colleagues that are well-trained, knowledgeable, compliant and understanding.
In practical terms, we have increased the protection for client money, and have changed to a more simplified, flat administration fee structure (http://www.harringtonbrooks.co.uk/financial-management/key-information) and guarantee that payments will be dispersed from month one to creditors and lenders.
Harrington Brooks is totally focused on securing appropriate solutions to free customers from debt and, where appropriate, delivering those solutions in a user-friendly, supportive way.
The rule changes announced will give consumers additional protection and puts the onus on credit providers to ensure that they treat customers fairly at all times. Consumer credit providers will need to ensure that they give customers the right information to make informed choices, that their services meet consumer nees, and that people in difficulty are treated fairly.
Harrington Brooks remains a leading member and supporter of the Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA), which is a robust Trade Association that since it was established in 2000, has been responsible for promoting good practice in the debt management industry, and for protecting the interests of the public and the lenders to whom they owe money.
Under DEMSA, Harrington Brooks have been audited several times by independent third-party compliance analysts and continue to support DEMSA’s hard work and their role in supervisory governance.
In summary, we want the changes to make more customers happy, relieved and cared for with well-informed, suitable and appropriate debt management solutions so that Harrington Brooks can create more of the same:
- “A very helpful and understanding company. I would highly recommend Harrington Brooks to anyone finding themselves in any kind of debt problems.”
- “Friendly staff treat you as a human, not just a number.”
- “No exaggeration to say Harrington Brooks saved my marriage and my sanity.”
- “For the first time we have peace of mind knowing not any of the companies can contact us. We feel we have got back our freedom.”
- “Harrington Brooks are efficient, professional, very prompt and courteous.”
- “I was being chased by phone, email and letters with threats to come to the door. This has all stopped since I turned to Harrington Brooks.”
Source: Selection of Trust Pilot Reviews 2013/14