Innovative new programme revealed at ILC-UK’s flagship Future of Ageing conference London
Identifying solutions to the growing problem of vulnerability in later life is the aim of a new initiative launched at the Future of Ageing Conference this week.
The specialist financial services group Just, with the support of the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK), is leading the programme which will bring together experts, innovators and groups who work to support vulnerable consumers to collaborate on future solutions.
Its objective is to identify and support the development of products and services that will address the challenges faced by ageing consumers at risk of vulnerability due to physical disability, illness, dementia or financial exclusion.
The launch responds to the increasing scrutiny by the Financial Conduct Authority of how financial services companies are addressing vulnerability. It has argued the market “is not serving many consumers in vulnerable circumstances consistently or well” and that “customers in vulnerable circumstances are being let down”.
Innovating for Ageing will be a solutions-based project aiming to deliver improvements to vulnerable customers’ experiences with the products and services they encounter when dealing with financial services, as well as businesses and organisations from outside of the financial services industry. Just and ILC-UK plans to:
- Bring together innovators and designers with groups representing vulnerable consumers to promote better understanding of the issues;
- Organise events including “innovation sprints” and awards to inspire and recognise collaboration and new thinking;
- Identify and highlight key lessons and good practice;
- Report back on public policy implications.
David Sinclair, Director of ILC-UK, said he was keen to talk to individuals and organisations keen to participate in the Innovating for Ageing initiative. He said:
“Our ageing society is a driver for increasing levels of vulnerability – more people with dementia, with sight and hearing loss, and multiple long-term health conditions, for example.
“This project aims to seek out technological and policy innovations and solutions, with an aim to removing barriers and ultimately rethinking the products and services that are available on the market.”
Stephen Lowe, Group Communications Director at Just, said that recent FCA reports suggest as many as half of UK consumers – more than 25 million people – currently show “one or more characteristics of potential vulnerability”, which indicates the scale of the challenge.
“The FCA is calling on industry to lead the way in delivering better products and services,” he said. “This project will be a rallying point for those seeking to respond to the challenges set by FCA and to address the issues vulnerable consumers face when interacting with businesses, whether from the financial services industry or other sectors.”
Innovating for Ageing also aims to respond to the vision set out in by the FCA in its recent Our Future Approach to Consumers mission document that called upon the financial services to better support vulnerable customers. It said it wants to see in all markets:
- Consumers that are enabled to buy the products and services they need because the environment in which they are sold is clear, fair and not misleading with a good choice architecture;
- High-quality, good value products and services that meet consumers’ needs;
- Inclusion – where everyone is able to access the financial products they need and the needs of vulnerable consumers are taken into account;
- Protection – consumers are appropriately protected from harm.
What is Innovating for Ageing?
Innovating for Ageing aims to identifying solutions to the growing problem of vulnerability in later life.
We will identify and support the development of products and services that address the challenges faced by ageing consumers at risk of vulnerability due to physical disability, illness, dementia or financial exclusion.
Why are we focussing on vulnerable older consumers?
The FCA defines a vulnerable consumer as “someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.”
There are growing numbers of older people who might be defined as vulnerable.
In an ageing society, more and more of us are likely to become vulnerable consumers, even if just temporarily. The likelihood for example, of physical disability, serious illnesses, digital exclusion and dementia increase with age. And as our society is ageing we are witnessing a higher proportion of our population in old age and a growing number of people reaching their 80th year and beyond.
And there is a need to better serve vulnerable consumers. The FCA has argued that the “financial services market is not serving many consumers in vulnerable circumstances consistently or well”. In fact, they go as far as saying that “customers in vulnerable circumstances are being let down by their financial service providers.
What will we be doing?
- We will bring together key stakeholders at a launch reception at Innovation Warehouse on 16 January
- We will organise an event to help technology companies, start-ups and innovators understand the needs of vulnerable consumers
- We will organise a “Vulnerable Consumers Innovation Sprint” to inspire new ideas
- We will organise an awards ceremony to promote and recognise the best ideas
- We will produce a short report setting out lessons for policy makers
Why should you work with us?
Over the next six months Innovating for Ageing will seek out technological and policy solutions to the challenges faced by vulnerable consumers.
- We will give visibility to your concerns about how to best support vulnerable consumers
- We will seek out technological and policy solutions to the problems you identify
- We will highlight the issues you raise with Government and regulators
How can you work with us?
- Let us know what are the biggest challenges you think which are faced by vulnerable consumers
- Agree to participate in the project
- Help us promote the activities and the awards to the companies you work with
- Suggest entrants or categories for the awards
- Attend project events, including speaking opportunities
- Participate in our vulnerable consumer workshop to highlight the needs of vulnerable consumers
- Participate as a judge for the awards
- Support the development of some of the solutions
- Host an event as part of the project