KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — The Policy Document on Fair Treatment of Financial Consumers (FTFC) issued by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in 2019 will be enhanced this year, with the updated document taking effect in April 2025, said the central bank’s assistant governor Norhana Endut.

The enhanced document aims to strengthen protection for vulnerable consumers and ensure their interests are also safeguarded.

Norhana said the framework has set out the expectations for the boards of directors and senior management of financial services providers (FSPs) to embed fair treatment of financial consumers into their corporate culture and values and ensure that it becomes an integral part of their operations.

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“This year, we provide an expansion to this framework to include the principle of treatment of vulnerable consumers to be more deliberate and intentional,” she said.

Norhana said four things were outlined by BNM, with the first being FSPs to assess the needs of vulnerable consumers in their existing customer base and target market by implementing appropriate policies and procedures.

“Secondly, embedding the needs of financing consumers, especially vulnerable consumers, in product development and ensuring product features adequately addresses the risk of potential harm to the vulnerable consumers or the risk exclusion of these vulnerable consumers in the design of their products and services,” she said at the session titled ‘Know Your Rights — Fair Treatment of Vulnerable Consumers’ at the Sasana Symposium 2024 here, today.

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On the third point of the extension, Norhana explained that BNM would expect the staff, representatives and agents of FSPs to recognise, assess and respond appropriately to vulnerable consumers’ needs.

Lastly, she said is enhancing customer service processes to enable staff, representatives and agents to deliver tailored responses appropriate to individual needs and circumstances.

“So, while we introduced these new measures this year to the FSPs, we are giving FSPs 12 months in terms of transition.

“What will happen in the next 12 months is for FSPs to actually review their existing processes and enhance them accordingly based on this new document (extension),” the deputy governor said.

Meanwhile, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Muazzam Mohamed said with the policy document, FSPs would need to further enhance their customer service charters and continue having product innovations that meet the needs of various customers.

“In terms of enhancing customer services, we must go beyond normal thinking transactions including advisory, when we suspect the customer may be a falling victim to a scam, for example, and this is something we need to continue doing going forward.

“And lastly, (we need) personalised customer experience. We cannot take a cookie-cutter approach where one product is meant for everybody. It doesn’t work that way and must be differentiated with the various instrument tools and channels,” he added. — Bernama