Posts Tagged ‘lending standards board’

New Lending Code 11: mental health, MALG guidance

November 23, 2009

183. Further and more detailed good practice guidelines have been produced by MALG and are available at: http://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/download.asp . The MALG guidelines will not be monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board. [Reproduced with the kind permission of the British Banking Association -see link below]

Because I had read many of the documents some time ago, and not got round to all of them, combined with a period when my attention had to be elsewhere, I had confused the guidelines with the submission to the 2007 review of the Banking Code, and both with some parts of the Consumer Protection Regulations.

Albeit, I have this clear now and apologise should I have attributed rule and regulation to a document which it is not in. But the effect of my comments is unaltered.

While the guidelines are given a somewhat detached status, since they are to be neither monitored nor enforced by the standards board, they remain specified good practice. As such they will figure in considerations of the actions of creditors and debt collectors in other places, and cannot be ignored.

The guidelines were of great value when they were published in 2007. While they are not directly included in the Lending Code they are, by this paragraph, made best practice in carrying out the previous 10 paragraphs. This is an invaluable advance for those affected.

While there is no mention of the other vulnerable debtors – elderly and poor – in the new code or in the guidelines, their link in the CPRs should leave no creditor in any doubt that similar care is required for them.

There are 15 main heads in this document and invaluable additions, such as a listing of relevant mental conditions.

In my judgement they leave creditors for no excuse to behave inappropriately in relation to those suffering, once the creditor has been advised of the condition involved. Nor, indeed, against those who fall into the other two vulnerable groups. I would add more to the vulnerable areas.

This is because of the extreme unbalance in the ‘playing field’ between the enormous companies and the defaulting individuals who have no experience or knowledge of the area. For that group of scurrilous companies – some of the biggest of banks – who follow an aggressive  path, I feel these regulations still lack the teeth that are needed to protect.

Well, I suppose these gripes are part of my shopping list for the next reviews in all areas!

That said I believe thanks and congratulations are due to all those who have worked extremely hard over many years to make these new paragraphs and  their guidelines part of the body of rules.

Joseph Harris, Debt Control Man
Author: Control Your Debt Crisis on Your Own Terms
http://www.controlyourdebtcrisis.co.uk
The new Lending Code is here http://www.bba.org.uk/bba/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1758
The MALG 2007 submission to the review of the code is here http://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/download.asp
And the Treasury Select committee view is here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmtreasy/274/27406.htm#a18

New Lending Code 5: mental health, information recording

November 12, 2009

176. With a customer’s explicit consent and in line with requirements of the Data Protection Act, where it is possible and appropriate subscribers should record relevant information about the customer on their account so that staff can deal appropriately with the customer.  [Reproduced with the kind permission of the British Banking Association -see link below]

As happens so often with different advances in civilised behaviour there is some conflict between different needs. I doubt whether, in this situation, there is a great problem between ensuring there is adequate information on file, and observation of data protection and privacy.

What is perhaps more interesting and important is both how that information is flagged, and how staff are trained to respond to it.

There is already a very intrusive approach to personal information gathering by creditor staff. Financial and health information, addresses, phones, relationships and family are all demanded as of right with little more confidence given the debtor than a rather loose code requirement and the Data Protection Act.

While there will be great annoyance and publicity at any breaches, we already know how much disc-stored information is either hacked or stolen and sold on. We have no real assurance about staff filtering or training, and even less about the policies and their implementation by creditors.

These considerations are multiplied where we find also that on transfer to a debt collection organisation the creditor is under no obligation to transfer important information, and a whole new – and potentially even less secure storage system – is made free to request and store all that information again.

So I urge on the BBA and the Lending Standards Board, as well as the OFT and the FSA to give great thought to the care which is needed in this, the procedures and requirements for the creditor and all agents, and the idea that it is right, as a routine, to expect debtors to repeat their information when it is already on file.

All that said, the addition of this is a support for the intent of the section, and is to be applauded.

Joseph Harris, Debt Control Man
Author: Control Your Debt Crisis on Your Own Terms
http://www.controlyourdebtcrisis.co.uk

The new Lending Code is here http://www.bba.org.uk/bba/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1758
The MALG 2007 submission to the review of the code is here http://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/download.asp
And the Treasury Select committee view is here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmtreasy/274/27406.htm#a18

 

New Lending Code 2: mental health, systems

November 6, 2009

Debt and mental health
This section of guidance is relevant to both personal and micro-enterprise customers.
173. The impacts of financial difficulty can be especially acute for customers with mental health problems. Subscribers should consider their processes and systems to ensure that they can be responsive to a customer in financial difficulties, from the point at which they are made aware of a mental health problem. [Reproduced with the kind permission of the British Banking Association – here]

The Lending Code is now part of the formal equipment of the Office of Fair Trading, and sits more certainly side by side with holding of Credit Licences and with such fair dealings rules as the Consumer Protection Regulations.

Monitoring remains with the Lending Standards Board [that was the Banking Code Standards Board], but penalising becomes a matter for the OFT.

This is why this is such an important advance. It is now a requirement for creditors and debt collectors to take into account mental problems where there are financial difficulties. This is already covered in the CPRs, under the guise of vulnerable debtors. Vulnerable includes the elderly and those without funds.

While the Debt and Mental Health section is by no means as definite as I would like, it is such a big strengthening of the position of debtors with such health problem that the wording is to be praised as improving the experience of such debtors.

By featuring the good practice guidelines of the Money Advice Liaison Group, the other members of the vulnerable classification are effectively included. The more definite advice in the guidelines also becomes part of good practice.

It is also worth glancing at the 2005 comments of the Treasury Select Committee.

Joseph Harris, Debt Control Man
Author: Control Your Debt Crisis on Your Own Terms
http://www.controlyourdebtcrisis.co.uk

New Lending Code 1: Lending, Debt and the Vulnerable

November 5, 2009

At the end of section 9, Financial Difficulties, there are eleven paragraphs headed ‘Debt and mental health’.

Inclusion of this is a huge departure from the previous section 14 of the Banking Code [most of which is now wrapped up in the FSA BCOBS]. It is about time this recognition of the vulnerable started, since the Treasury Select Committee was urging it in 2005 and the Money Advice Trust [a charity supported by the industry] in 2007, the two previous reviews of the code.

As the Lending Code includes guidance on treatment of micro enterprises this applies to these as well as personal customers. Fortunately the right of customers to represent themselves is not challenged here. As with debtors we have indeed moved a long way in understanding since the nineteenth century.

While this in no way puts the MAT or Treasury advice as part of the code, there is an instruction to British Banking Association members to take note of the guidelines published by MAT on behalf of the Money Advice Liaison Group, which is a forum with representatives from all parts of the finance industry, charities and government sections concerned.

While the more negative admission that the Lending Standards Board [new name for the Banking Code Standards Board] will neither monitor nor enforce them, the expectation of observance is clear and of value.

This is excellent news for vulnerable debtors, the mental health charities, the advisors and plain common sense.

Still a-ways to go for the full laying out of how to treat all vulnerable customers, but a welcome and cheering start. Such understanding bodes well for all debtors and all borrowers; perhaps paradoxically for all creditors as well.

Joseph Harris, Debt Control Man
Author: Control Your Debt Crisis on Your Own Terms
http://www.controlyourdebtcrisis.co.uk