Embedding Consistency in Approach
A Vulnerability Strategy Case Study
THE CLIENT: Amigo Loans
For individuals who are denied bank loans due to their credit score, gaining financial control can be difficult. Amigo Loans provides the option of guarantor lending to make borrowing possible and affordable.
How is vulnerability relevant to financial lenders?
Any lender will attract financially vulnerable customers. Their vulnerability could be due to low levels of numeracy and understanding of terms, economic uncertainty or spiralling debt. For this reason, there has to be clear processes, policies and practice in place to ensure all employees are vigilant. They must feel confident about identifying and responding to vulnerable customers.
How did Amigo Loans identify a need for vulnerable customer consultancy?
In 2020, Amigo Loans suspended lending and came under the scrutiny of the Financial Conduct Authority. They identified that some vulnerable customers had not been treated fairly and had been mis-sold loans. The company needed a comprehensive overhaul to return to lending.
Following feedback from Quality Assurance and team leaders, Senior Managers at Amigo Loans identified insufficient confidence and consistency in their approach to vulnerable customers. To address this, they reviewed their approach to customer outcomes, organised comprehensive staff training for staff and updated systems.
They decided to engage an external expert to advise on all aspects of vulnerability would ensure that this critical subject was viewed from a fresh perspective. Consultancy from Helen Pettifer offered the right expertise and direction to avoid repeating mistakes and to provide the best customer service.
THE BRIEF: A robust strategy to drive a change in company culture
Amigo Loans wanted a vulnerability specialist to provide consultancy and a vulnerability strategy. It was also important to develop an in-house training programme to upskill customer-facing staff. They were aware that the company culture needed to change, so support with embedding the strategy throughout the organisation was essential.
The priorities were to encourage all staff to see the individual customer, rather than an account to be managed. They needed the awareness to consider the wider customer circumstances and the potential impact of financial lending. New skills were required to gain confidence in capturing vulnerability during customer communications. They also needed processes to enable appropriate help and support, unique to that customer’s circumstances, as required.
THE SOLUTION: Recommendations tailored to Amigo Loans requirements
I was invited to Amigo Loans, by their Director of Operations. We had previously worked together, developing a vulnerability strategy for their previous employer and had developed a good working relationship. Having listened to the company’s goals, I recommended a blend of consultancy and practical support to help develop and embed the vulnerability strategy.
“Helen’s recommendations were spot on for our company and the dedication of time and effort to get us to where we needed to be was excellent. Helen was able to quickly understand where we were and what we wanted to do and, without taking over, facilitated a transfer of knowledge through the upskilling and empowerment of key individuals within our organisation. The project team warmed to her collaborative style and didn’t feel like they were being ‘told’, rather shepherded through the complex subject of vulnerability.”
THE OUTCOME: Positive feedback and a return to lending
Changing a company’s culture and embedding new systems and processes is never easy. The key to success is working with individuals who are keen to develop and embrace fresh thinking. Amigo Loans understood the benefits of change and wanted to become a champion of good outcomes for customers.
We set a pace that was realistic for updating systems and upskilling the team. It wasn’t a quick fix, but our collective work on turning things around has paid dividends.
“With support from Helen Pettifer, we now have a customer-centric business and our customer outcomes metrics have become the key thing we measure to determine success.
The improvements to our business model were noted by the Board, and this has given them confidence and assurance that the investment in our vulnerable customer strategy has been worth it. We are an outcomes organisation now and this has informed our newly launched brand; Rewardrate.
We have seen improved employee confidence and consistency when communicating with vulnerable customers. The changes in employee attitudes and actions have resulted in fewer customer complaints and increased identification of vulnerability. We have received positive feedback on the way we deal with all customers facing difficult circumstances.
We will be welcoming Helen back to evaluate whether we are holding fast to our commitments and are staying up-to-date and relevant in this ever-evolving subject.”
- James Tattersall, Director of Operations
The company’s commitment to customers and consistency of service was one of many factors informing the Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to allow Amigo Loans to return to lending in October 2022.