Vulnerable Customer Policy

  1. Purpose
    1. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the way in which PollenPay (“we“, “us“, “PollenPay“) offer financial services does not have any negative impact upon vulnerable consumers.
  2. What is a Vulnerable Customer?
    1. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) defines a vulnerable customer 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.”The FCA expects firms like ourselves to treat customers fairly when we are dealing with people with vulnerable circumstances. For the purposes of this policy, vulnerable consumers are defined as customers and prospective customers of PollenPay whose ability or circumstances require us to take extra precautions in the way we provide our services in order to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in any way.
  3. Identifying a vulnerable consumer
    1. When engaging with customers over the internet, it is impossible for us to identify a vulnerable consumer because we cannot view any personal characteristics, such as body language and facial expressions, which may help identify whether the prospective customer requires additional information and guidance to enable them to make an informed decision.We therefore identify vulnerable customers in two ways;
      1. Those direct clients that self-notify us that they are vulnerable; and
      2. Those direct clients that through personal communication with us, which identifies may be or are vulnerable.
  4. What do we do if we engage with a vulnerable consumer?
    1. Just because somebody is vulnerable it does not automatically preclude them using the products and services that we provide.As soon an employee is advised or thinks it may be engaging with a vulnerable consumer he or she should immediately notify the Compliance Manager, make a record of this status and ensure they adhere to this policy. The Compliance Manager shall then be responsible for the application of this policy.
  5. What is mental capacity?
    1. Mental capacity is a person’s ability to make an informed decision. Whether or not a person has the ability to understand, remember, and weigh-up relevant information will determine whether he is able to make a decision based on that information. The person will also need to be able to communicate their decision.
  6. Making decisions
    1. Mental capacity is always defined in relation to a specific decision at a specific time. Consequently, when considering an application for a product, we take into account of the customer’s circumstances at the time at which an application is made.We take appropriate steps to identify whether or not the customer appears able to understand, remember, and weigh-up the information and explanations provided to them, and, when having done so, make an informed decision.Mental capacity limitations can be either permanent or temporary (or be fluctuating over time). Consequently, the fact that a person may not have had the mental capacity to make a particular type of decision in the past, does not necessarily mean that they currently do not have, or will never have, the capacity to make such a decision.Mental capacity limitations may also be partial. Under such circumstances the person concerned is likely to be able to make certain decisions but not others. Decisions that may require the understanding, remembering and weighing-up of relatively complex information, are likely to be more challenging for many individuals with mental capacity limitations than more straightforward spending decisions.Amongst the most common potential causes of mental capacity limitations are the following (this is a non-exhaustive list):
      1. mental health condition;
      2. dementia;
      3. learning disability;
      4. developmental disorder;
      5. neuro-disability/brain injury;
      6. alcohol or drug (including prescribed drugs) induced intoxication.

      A customer may be understood to have, or suspected of having, any of these (or other) conditions which are potential causes of mental capacity limitation (for example, a mental health condition) but that does not necessarily mean that they do not have the mental capacity to make an informed decision.

      In some instances, it may constitute disability discrimination for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 (EA) to decline a customer’s application for a product on a presumption that he doesn’t have the mental capacity to make a particular decision based solely on the knowledge that he has a condition of the type listed above.

  7. Financial literacy
    1. Mental capacity is not the same as financial literacy although, in practice, it may often be difficult for us to differentiate a limitation of one from a limitation of the other. In terms of a limitation of mental capacity, the customer has some impairment of mind or brain function.There are only likely to be limited circumstances in which the Firm will have substantive evidence that a customer has such an impairment and, in the absence of such evidence, can reasonably be expected to (proactively seek to) establish whether or not a customer has such an impairment of mind or brain function.In the alternative, a limitation in financial literacy is likely to result from inadequate financial education rendering a customer unable to, or feeling insufficiently empowered to, manage their finances, engage confidently with firms, and make informed financial decisions.Those with limitations in financial literacy and those with limitations in mental capacity can both be classified as groups of actual or potentially ‘vulnerable customers’ by virtue of their respective limitations. Given that customers with either form of limitation (or both forms) might have difficulty making informed decisions – rather than taking steps with a view to seeking to differentiate between the two categories of persons the Firm will apply this Policy in both circumstances.While acknowledging that there are limits that we can reasonably be expected to undertake when seeking to form a view as to whether or not a customer has, or may have, some form of capacity limitation, prior to providing any product or services, we expect customers to make it aware (on a voluntary basis) of whether there are any issues relating to their health or general well-being which may be relevant to our assessment of the suitability of its services for that customer.

      If a customer provides information which indicates that he does, or may, have some form of mental capacity limitation that might impact on his ability to make an informed decision, this should not lead to him automatically being denied access to the product or service being sought.

      It should act as a trigger for us to consider what reasonable steps might be taken in order to amend our ordinary processes to ensure that the customer is treated fairly and a positive outcome results for the customer.