TransUnion Shares Insights and Expertise to Help Businesses in Navigating Consumer Duty

TransUnion has today unveiled a new advisory paper, “Thriving in the Age of Consumer Duty: Strategies for Success,” to support businesses as they move into the new era of Consumer Duty, with the implementation milestone coming into effect on 31 July 2023.

The new Consumer Duty regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires firms within the financial services sector to prioritise customer needs and empower them to make informed financial decisions.

TransUnion’s report expands on four key areas of focus:

  • Products and services outcome – firms will need to revisit their existing offerings to ensure they are fit for purpose.

  • Price and value outcome – firms must reassess their pricing and the value their products provide to consumers.

  • Consumer understanding outcome – a firm’s communications should support consumers and enable them to make informed decisions.

  • Consumer support outcome – firms must ensure they are able to offer support that meets consumers’ needs throughout the relationship.

Sharing his views on the importance of Consumer Duty, CEO of TransUnion in the UK, Satrajit “Satty” Saha said: “Whilst firms will no doubt already have been working hard to achieve positive outcomes for their customers, this added regulatory focus will help reinforce just how pivotal it is that the consumer is at the heart of everything we’re doing in financial services.

“The long-term financial wellbeing of consumers is crucial, not only for their own prosperity, but also for the success and sustainability of the economy. It’s imperative the industry proactively embraces conversations surrounding financial wellbeing, treating it with the same importance as mental and emotional wellness.”

In its spring 2023 survey, the FCA found that 64% of firms expect to be fully compliant with the new regulation by the 31 July, indicating that many companies are still in the process of amending their offering and will need ongoing support. The report delves into practical strategies, with data and insights at their core, to help ensure compliance, now and in the long-term.

Helping Customers Optimise and Secure Digital Transformation

Rewind a couple of years and enterprises were heavily focused on acquiring new tech to drive forward their digitisation plans. Then, when the pandemic struck, organisations were forced to fix any technology gaps in their environment and digitise services to hastily plug these gaps.

Cybercriminals – aware of the opportunity that the new remote landscape offered – were also taking advantage, quickly exploiting vulnerabilities across the digital ecosystem to infiltrate and breach organisations. The evolving threat landscape and subsequent widespread data breaches also led to an increase in security-driven initiatives to protect sensitive assets. But unfortunately, this approach also resulted in technology sprawl and duplication with overlapping security tools adversely impacting security posture. Organisations made a new addition every time a security gap or vulnerability was found, and technology was identified to address it.

This technology sprawl not only added complexity, but it was also expensive, resource-intensive, and difficult for network and security teams to manage. And while these sprawling environments brought flexibility for the workforce, the compounded cyber risk presented network and security teams with an immense challenge, as they struggled with an overload of technology that all required deployment, operational support, and maintenance.

Continuous monitoring and stronger defence

Fast forward to 2023 and the paradigm is shifting again. It is moving towards a more continuous approach to monitoring and securing data and networks that balances the needs of regulatory compliance, robust protection, and security. Without a doubt, cloud and mobility have driven, and continue to drive, digital transformation initiatives in the quest to make businesses more agile and competitive. But this must be achieved while protecting users, workloads, endpoints, IoT devices, and more in the face of ever-growing, sophisticated cyberthreats.

Now enterprises are searching for ways to consolidate, centralise, and integrate their technology while also optimising it, and they are increasingly turning to specialised, reliable managed service partners to assist them in doing this.

A distributed workforce requires a Zero Trust approach

Additionally, with workforces scattered over several locations, countries, and continents, this new highly distributed environment demands a completely different approach; another shift in how the technology stack is implemented, managed, and secured, one that takes a Zero Trust approach.

In effect, digital transformation means that users, devices, apps, and data can be anywhere, meaning that traditional perimeter-based approaches to network security are no longer fit for purpose. That’s why a Zero Trust (or a trust no-one) approach to achieve secure, efficient connectivity is essential to minimise business risk, eliminate point products, and reduce overall costs and complexity.

Doing more with less

Also, in today’s volatile and uncertain landscape, with the expanded attack surface that organizations are tasked to defend – despite industry-wide talent shortages – the new mantra is increasingly turning to how enterprises can “do more with less”. This doesn’t mean working harder or longer. It means applying and optimising technology to amplify what an organisation can achieve amid today’s challenges of constant change.

AI is certainly being hailed as the answer to unlock benefits that free precious resources for more productive work. This is certainly what Microsoft has been promoting, pushing organisations to be more data-driven, to optimize current tech, to deliver efficiency with automation and AI, to innovate through the use of cloud, to reenergize the workforce, and finally protect, everyone, everything, everywhere – all at once. Certainly, cloud-powered technologies, such as AI, IoT, and ML, offer organisations unparalleled agility and efficiency by automating processes, which accelerates innovation and makes security comprehensive while driving growth and advancing sustainability commitments.

Do cybersecurity budgets address enterprise requirements?

And despite the economic and other geo-political challenges, enterprises must continue to adapt to evolving market dynamics to meet customer needs. Their solid digital foundation has gone a long way in helping them innovate quickly and deliver critical business outcomes – but in this new environment have they gone far enough?

recent Neustar International Security Council survey found that 49% of security decision-makers felt that their organisation’s cybersecurity budget was insufficient to fully address their requirements. In the survey, a large majority of respondents agree that C-suite and board-level decision-makers understand the current security threats their business is facing (83%), but a significant share of respondents (69%) are also concerned that current budget constraints are limiting the use of new strategies, technologies and implementation practices.

We are finding that customers have similar concerns and are increasingly turning to us for help. Embracing a trusted managed service partner enables them to implement the necessary critical technologies at a lower cost and also understand how best to consolidate and optimise their current technology infrastructure.

Shifting from a CapEx to an OpEx model

In my experience, a trusted provider can help customers deploy the required solutions with the right level of expertise at the right time, augmenting in-house resources. Additionally, they can enable enterprises to scale solutions and services up or down as requirements evolve and change. Working with a managed service provider also enables enterprises to shift costs from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure model and to phase out services and technology they no longer need.

We take on the responsibility of investing in and maintaining solutions and infrastructure, as well as hiring teams to manage the technology and stay abreast of industry developments and the latest threats.

Not all managed service providers are created equal

However, a word of caution, not all managed service providers are created equal, so enterprises should look to work with the right partner. This means looking beyond cost savings to all the other benefits that a partner brings to the table such as superior technology, an innovative approach, exceptional service, deep expertise, speed to results, and the flexibility to ensure that solutions can adapt to the organisation’s unique needs. This should include reducing silos within large enterprises, and allowing for organizations to align and gain the visibility and control necessary for cyber protection.

Managed services will continue to be an attractive option, regardless of the global economic picture, as enterprises look to be more resilient, adaptable, and responsive, while doing more with less. Partners who focus on securely and efficiently connecting users and devices to applications and data quickly and cost-effectively will be in demand as they enable the digital transformation needs of large enterprises both now and in the future.

By Brian Ramsey, VP Americas, Xalient

Dun and Bradstreet comment: UK ad spend remained flat in Q1 2023

This morning the latest AA/WARC Expenditure Report revealed that UK ad spend remained flat in Q1 2023, with year-on-year growth of 0.1 per cent, to reach a total of £9bn.

Susan McKay, International CMO at Dun & Bradstreet said: “As spend on search and online display rises, it’s clear that businesses are prioritising immediate discoverability, rather than wider brand building, to drive sales. And while it’s great to see growth in the UK advertising market as businesses fight back against the economic downturn, businesses must make sure they balance their marketing strategies to meet the changing needs of their customers without sacrificing brand identity.

“It’s vital that businesses use data-driven insights to adapt quickly to changing buyer conditions, re-balancing budgets to invest in channels and promotions that are converting best to ensure resilience. In fact, 82% of sales and market leaders we surveyed are already using data to assess business risk, meaning better insight into market opportunities, customer acquisition and retention. Ultimately these are the businesses who will be better equipped to navigate the current economic landscape while also future-proofing for growth.”

MorganAsh adds triage service for annuities to MARS vulnerability tool

MorganAsh has added a new triage service to its MARS vulnerability software, to help financial advisers identify when to obtain an annuity quotation for a client.

Using health data already collected for the vulnerability assessment, the MorganAsh Resilience System, MARS, makes a recommendation on the likelihood of an enhancement – and if this will be marginal or significant. Advisers can then choose how they wish to progress, with MARS itself providing guidance. MARS will identify if an online health assessment should be sufficient, or if a more in-depth medical assessment by a MorganAsh nurse is likely to give the consumer a better rate.

MorganAsh has undertaken medical assessments by nurse tele-interviews for 13 years. A recent study confirmed previous research that for those retirees with significant health issues, a nurse-led medical assessment results in better annuity rates for a consumer, compared to completing an online form.

With rising interest rates presenting greater returns, pension annuities have risen in popularity in recent months. In fact, research by ABI (Association of British Insurers) found that sales were up 22 percent in the first three months of 2023 – to the highest level in almost five years. But with Consumer Duty requiring advisers to evidence that they have considered all options, MorganAsh argues that not considering an enhanced annuity at annual review, or assessing the client’s health, is likely not to meet Consumer Duty.

The practical challenge is when a consumer’s health is going to significantly impact the annuity rate.  All annuities are effectively underwritten, meaning that an annuity quotation should be obtained for every retiree every year. However, with annuity quotes taking weeks to be returned, and a detailed health assessment a requirement, many advisers are looking for a more practical way to triage when to obtain quotations and when not.

Andrew Gething managing director of MorganAsh, comments: “The challenge for advisers is when to obtain an annuity quotation – and whether to do this online or have a nurse conduct a far more thorough medical assessment. By incorporating this triage directly within MARS, we have removed this risk for the adviser. This should ensure that all retirees are presented with a reflective and accurate annuity quotation which they can compare against the drawdown option.

“All advisers need to undertake a vulnerability assessment of their customers – and most are opting to review this annually, just like the attitude to risk. It is highly efficient to use this health information to triage for any other products with a health or longevity component. We see this as a real opportunity to reach out to areas previously underserved.”

The annuity triage is just one of multiple next steps – called treatments – suggested to users in response from the vulnerability assessment data. It is part of a full suite of treatments provided within MARS, which users can select in line with their vulnerability strategy and risk appetite.

MorganAsh has also added a new triage service to help mortgage advisers to identify and assess the protection needs of their clients.

The MorganAsh Resilience System, MARS, utilises health information collected as part of the vulnerability assessment to triage the likely prospects of life, critical illness and income protection. MARS will assess suitability, provide a rating and suggest the best way to proceed – whether it’s online or to pass to a nominated protection specialist.

These are property market pockets going against the grain of a cooling market

The latest research from digital property pack provider, Moverly, has revealed that while house prices may be cooling during this period of economic turmoil, some local markets are actually heating up with property values increasing by up to 10%.

Moverly analysed point-to-point house price change in Britain for January and May 2023 on both a regional and local authority (LA) level using data from the Land Registry.

Due to wider economic turmoil and the rising cost of mortgages, Britain’s housing market has remained largely static this year and, as such, the broad view of prices shows only minimal change.

Between January and May of this year, Britain’s average house price declined by -0.6%.

The only region to see prices rise during this time was Scotland where the average increased by 4.7%. All other British regions saw small declines, with the most significant drop of -2.5% being recorded in the East of England.

However, price change analysis on a local authority level shows a lot more movement, both up and down.

The biggest decline has been seen in North East Derbyshire where prices fell by -12.7% with the Shetland Islands (-11.6%), Rossendale (-9.9%), and West Lindsey (-9.2%) also recorded significant drops.

But on the other hand, East Lothian in Scotland experienced impressive price growth of 10% over the five-month period, followed by Renfrewshire (8.1%), East Cambridgeshire (6.7%), and Uttlesford (5%).

Oxford (4.6%), South Hams (4.5%), Aberdeen (4.4%), Winchester (4.3%), North Hertfordshire (4.1%) and Monmouthshire (3.8%) also rank within the top 10 areas with the highest rates of house price growth so far this year.

Moverly co-founder Ed Molyneux, commented: “Britain’s national picture, which is the one that makes up the majority of news headlines, shows a largely stubborn housing market, somehow resisting any kind of price dissemination as a result of wider economic struggles. Although, it’s fair to say that the positive price growth of the pandemic boom has also now vanished.

“But the nation’s market is made up of many local markets and taking the time to analyse this data shows that prices have been anything but static. In one corner of Britain we see -13% drops, while in another it’s 10% growth.

“This is why, instead of being influenced by the national picture, buyers and sellers are wise to consider the conditions of their own local market when deciding whether now is the time to buy or sell.”

High demand for Just Mortgages with 52 self-employed broker applications in Q2

Leading national brokerage Just Mortgages has revealed it received 52 applications from brokers to join its successful self-employed division in Q2.

Applicants included existing self-employed brokers, those from more corporate organisations and even employed brokers looking to capitalise on the opportunity to run their own business. It follows news that Just Mortgages welcomed 48 new self-employed advisers in Q1, as the division fast approaches 500 in total.

In addition to its employed division, Just Mortgages provides a platform to enable self-employed brokers to work for themselves, all while accessing ongoing mentoring, training and both marketing and compliance support.

Ben Allkins, head of mortgages and protection at Just Mortgages, believes the high demand to join the division in a difficult climate highlights the strength and depth of support available to self-employed brokers.

Ben Allkins said: “It’s certainly not an easy climate to be a self-employed broker. However, we can be encouraged that even with challenges in the wider market, the proposition we offer is proving incredibly desirable. It goes far beyond a place to put your name above the door, providing brokers with the launching pad to write more business, increase their skillset and expand their teams through our business principals programme.

“This year so far, we’ve made great strides in expanding the infrastructure around our brokers with new additions to our management team adding decades of expertise and real-world experience. We’ve also reshaped the entire division to make that support even more accessible, as well as worked closely with our learning and development team to enhance training opportunities. When we say, ‘on your own, but not alone’, we truly mean it.”

In addition to day-to-day support with sales, marketing and compliance, brokers can access training to expand their licence options with courses on business protection, equity release and commercial mortgages. Brokers also have the opportunity to refer clients for wider financial advice through sister firm Just Wealth.

With 650 brokers nationwide, Just Mortgages can advise on any client requirements, whether it’s first-time buyers, shared ownership, buy-to-let, later life borrowing, commercial premises or investments, savings and pensions.

Mann Island Finance Lending Hits £1bn

Mann Island Finance’s live lending book has now hit the £1bn milestone. Since its first steps into lending in 2015, the business has lent over £2.3bn to car and van buyers across the UK.

Reflecting upon the milestone, Mann Island Finance’s Managing Director, John Hughes, notes; “Achieving a live book of £1Bn of motor finance lending is a fantastic milestone for us to have achieved as the first new lender to enter the UK market in many years. The success is a combination of great people, fantastic business relationships and leading-edge multi-award winning fintech capability. It has all been about teamwork and a vision to transform vehicle lending.”

While Mann Island Finance has a long history in the UK motor finance sector, a strategic decision with the backing of parent Investec has seen the business transform its model to become a dedicated motor finance lender and one of increasing scale and reputation.

From its ‘test and learn’ start as a lender, the business quickly faced the challenge of the global pandemic. It kept its door open, kept lending and sustained its investment in digitising the business model, helping dealers and customers with imagination, and retaining the confidence of Investec. It has been on a rapid upward trajectory ever since.

Today the business provides Hire Purchase, Personal Contract Purchase and Lease Purchase products, and as well as cars and LCVs, the business has entered the leisure market successfully. It is also well-prepared for the forthcoming Consumer Duty. Success, as John concludes, has and will be all about teamwork; “As a new lender, we needed to ‘earn our spurs’ and show we could go the extra mile. Our agility, imagination and technology have served us well. We aim to build on these strong foundations and help the wider motor finance sector transform as the operating environment in which we operate transforms. I’m very confident in our ability to deliver on this ambition.”

FICO Recognized by Chartis as Enterprise Fraud Solutions Category Leader for Fourth Consecutive Year

Global analytics software firm FICO today announced that it has been named a category leader for enterprise fraud solutions for the fourth year in a row in Chartis’ Enterprise Fraud Solutions Market Update and Vendor Landscape report. As a Category Leader for enterprise fraud, FICO stands out for advanced and proprietary fraud detection techniques, behavioral monitoring, libraries of pre-packaged fraud rules, transaction monitoring, and identity management capabilities.

Chartis’ report provides a market update and vendor landscape analysis for 2023 based around key trends for anti-fraud solutions, including model risk, use of the cloud, the growth in artificial intelligence (AI), and the increasing speed of payment systems and services.

FICO’s fraud solutions globally protect more than 9,000 financial institutions, telecommunication organizations, auto finance companies, and government agencies from financial losses as well as damages caused by criminal behavior.

“Financial fraud is an increasing issue globally, as scammers are becoming bolder and are using sophisticated techniques to target more victims than ever before. We are committed to helping our customers protect their clients by using FICO’s latest cutting-edge solutions to stop fraudulent activity,” said Adam Davies, vice president of Fraud and Identity Solutions at FICO. “FICO is incredibly proud to be recognized as a global leader in enterprise fraud solutions by Chartis and to have our solutions help top financial institutions globally.”

FICO’s own global research reports that 88% of consumers are either planning to increase their use of real-time payments (RTP) or continue at their current rate in the coming year – showing that an increase of RTP usage is an indicator of an increase in potential fraud activity. Additionally, FICO’s research shows that nearly three-quarters (74%) of financial institution customers worldwide rate “good fraud protection” among their top three considerations when selecting and opening a new financial account. Given these broad trends, banks and other financial institutions need to partner with best-in-class solution providers to help detect and prevent evolving fraud schemes, while delivering  on customer expectations.

“Chartis is pleased to rank FICO once again as a leader in the Enterprise Fraud Solutions 2023 Market Update and Vendor Landscape,” said Phil Mackenzie, senior research specialist at Chartis. “FICO’s range of capabilities and excellence in analytics ensures that they help financial institutions, and their customers stay protected from the scourge of fraud even as criminals develop new and inventive ways to attack.”

FICO is a leader in analytics and applied intelligence platform technology. FICO’s consistent innovative technology is represented in many ways, including within the digital decisioning capabilities available on FICO® Platform, customer and client fraud/scams protection using FICO® Falcon® Fraud Manager, and digital communication abilities on FICO® Customer Communication Services.

Last month, FICO launched 19 major enhancements to FICO® Platform that help clients drive critical and strategic business outcomes across their customer lifecycle. The landmark improvements were made to the platform’s Transactional Analytics, Optimization, Simulation, and Composability and Decisions capabilities – all of which are designed to sharpen enterprises’ competitive advantage and power exceptional customer experiences.

Landbay reduces pricing across fixed rate product range

Specialist buy-to-let lender Landbay has had a major price restructure across its fixed rate product range with reductions from 0.30% to 0.70%.

Product highlights

  • Like-for-Like remortgage standard two-year fix at 75% LTV – rates starting at 4.39% (-0.40% reduction)
  • Standard two-year fix at 75% LTV rates starting at 5.49% (-0.30% reduction)
  • Small HMO/MUFB five-year fix at 70% LTV – rates starting at 5.79% (-0.60% reduction)

Landbay is also reintroducing fixed rate products for trading companies and first time landlord small HMO/MUFB.

For added affordability, Landbay has variable fee structures so landlords can borrow more money depending on the rate and fee chosen.

Rob Stanton, business development director at Landbay, said: “With swaps rates reducing we are glad to be able to pass on rate reductions as quickly as possible. This will be welcome news for intermediaries and their landlord clients and covers all of our fixed rate deals.

“We have been able to reduce the rates on so many of our products at the same time due to our highly functional broker portal which we built in-house last year. Our expert IT team and technology means we are able to make changes quickly and efficiently.”

Overall Fraud at Pre-Pandemic Levels But Advance Fee Fraud Growth a Concern

“The latest fraud figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that overall fraud rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels. This would align with typical fraud patterns, where fraudsters adapt their targets and tactics in line with sudden changes in consumer behaviour. It may also be linked to improved controls that were widely implemented alongside the increased levels of fraud observed during the pandemic period. Organisations, however, should not take their eye off this ever-changing context.

“Some types of fraud have decreased, including bank and credit account fraud which was down by 14%. However, a cause for concern is the persistent rise in advance fee fraud, which has experienced 549% growth when comparing the year ending March 2020 to the year ending March 2023. This type of fraud includes scams where victims transfer funds to fraudsters, with a recent spate of these linked to postal deliveries – preying on the increase in online shopping and potentially also the increasing return to office-based work.

“This links with what we’ve found in our recent Consumer Pulse study, which indicates that phishing and social engineering fraud continue to plague consumers, while the latest Fraudscape report from Cifas finds an 180% increase in the number of companies targeted for identity fraud.

“As businesses navigate this ever-shifting landscape, safeguarding their customers must remain a top priority. Having recently hosted a series of FinCrime roundtables with our clients, debates have centred on the balance organisations face in terms of education – from making customers aware of scams and third-party fraud, to helping them recognise that a level of friction in the customer experience can help protect individuals. Therefore, organisations need to remain vigilant in fortifying against emerging threats, ensuring the consumer remains at the forefront of their fraud prevention and identification strategies.”

Chad Reimers, general manager of fraud & ID at TransUnion in the UK