Furniture protection plans are important add-ons to furniture purchases, says leading UK furniture warranty provider Guardsman, which partners with furniture retailers across the UK and Northern Ireland to offer these products, delivering revenue to retailers and providing peace of mind for customers.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates the conduct of 50,000 firms in the UK to ensure that financial markets are honest, competitive and fair, and the FCA’s focus strengthens later this month with Consumer Duty, which comes into force on 31st July, 2023.
The new duty sets higher and clearer standards of consumer protection across financial services, and requires firms to put their customers’ needs first. It brings this into focus with principle 12: “A firm must act to deliver good outcomes for retail customers”.
For Guardsman, it is important to be on the front foot and to have implemented sound, tested practices before they go live – protecting the business, its customers, and their retail partners as well.
In fact, Guardsman recommends anyone selling furniture protection plans or warranties to fully understand the importance of how the regulator expects firms to behave – from offering fair value to consumers, in terms of product relevance, to their commission structures, which should be fair and not deemed to be excessive. "We all remember the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal which enveloped the industry," states Guardsman, "and we certainly do not want to see that happen to our market. Come and talk to the experts to find out more and understand this critical piece of regulation that affects us all."
The four FCA consumer duty outcomes are: products and services (the terms and conditions that match consumer needs); price and value (evidencing a fair price, protecting consumers from high fees/charges); consumer Understanding (equipping consumers to make informed purchasing decisions); and consumer support (making it as easy for consumers to switch, cancel or complain, as it is to purchase).
The Guardsman team has carried out a considerable amount of work in reviewing and implementing new processes within the business to ensure continued compliance in line with its consumer duty obligations, and says it was ahead of the game in most instances.
Guardsman has implemented strict assessment controls and metric suites so it can meet all the required outcomes, from product review, to pricing and customer communication. Customer focus groups have been formed, which is a valuable extra dimension to the company's testing and development operation.
However, it does not end there, says Guardsman. There is continuous review and monitoring of existing frameworks to ensure continual improvement and remaining relevant to customer needs and market changes.
Guardsman finishes by commenting how it wants the industry to be supported and protected as the FCA continues to implement new principles and outcomes, and is encouraging retailers to think about these new principles in their own businesses, and to contact the furniture warranty provider if they would like any advice or further information.