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Protecting Vulnerable Customers from Potential Financial Abuse

Course description

In response to evidence heard by The Financial Services Royal Commission, and to changing community expectations, industry codes such as the Australian Banking Code of Practice and the General Insurance Code of Practice are strengtheing their requirements for members to have policies to assist vulnerable customers, and to train their staff accordingly.

This course provides an introduction to financial vulnerability and describes the various ways in which a customer may be vulnerable – for example due to ill-health, age, co-dependency, limited literacy or unfamiliarity with financial transactions. It provides tips to assist staff in recognising cases where a vulnerable customer may be subject to improper manipulation, or where they need to take extra steps to ensure that the customer fully understands the financial product they are considering.

The course teaches learners about the range of options they have in responding to cases of possible financial abuse and reminds them of the limitations on the actions they may take. Dealing with possible financial abuse requires a careful balance between protecting customers and respecting their rights.

One module is dedicated to ways of helping a customer who is fleeing domestic violence.

The course contains numerous case studies to bring the material to life.

Course outline

Module One: Customers with reduced decision-making capacity

·       Explain the importance of a banking customer’s decision-making capacity

·       Discuss how to assess a customer’s decision-making capacity

·       Describe the causes of reduced decision-making capacity

·       List possible responses to reduced decision-making capacity

·       Give a general overview of Powers of Attorney

Module Two: Customers with special needs

·       Discuss how to overcome various barriers that may hinder customers getting information about financial products

·       Explain how to assist customers who may have trouble understanding how financial products work

Module Three: Customers vulnerable to other parties

·       Explain which actions fall into the definition of ‘financial abuse’

·       Understand how to assess the chances that financial abuse is occurring

·       Outline some ways a customer can guard themselves against financial abuse

·       Outline some ways to respond if you suspect financial abuse is happening

Module Four: Relationship breakdowns and domestic violence

·       Explain how to help a customer reorganize their banking after a relationship breakdown

·       Understand the background to domestic violence

·       Explain how to help a customer open an account when they have too few identification documents

Module Five: Elder financial abuse

·       Use case studies of elder financial abuse to learn how to better identify and respond to potential elder financial abuse

Module six: Loans and Guarantees

·       Explain the risks faced by vulnerable customers when they enter into loans as a co-borrower or guarantor

·       Outline some ways to protect vulnerable customers when signing up loans

·       Case studies

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