Vulnerability is a label that frequently comes with stigma and misunderstanding. Too often, organisations and individuals see “vulnerable” as a static category of people within society. The reality is that we are all only a few mishaps away from being vulnerable. Almost all adults will be considered as financially vulnerable at least once in their life which is why we feel it’s important to address this misconception and begin to change the narrative around financial vulnerability.

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) defines a vulnerable customer as “someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care”. The New Consumer Duty, which came into force in 2023, states that financial institutions (FIs) now must act to deliver good outcomes for vulnerable customers. Many FIs would argue that they were doing this anyway, however, the data tells a different story. Of the 52% of adults with characteristics of vulnerability, only a mere 3% are recognised by their financial service providers!

The question is not why, it’s how.

It’s a simple but subjective concept, however, the challenge to standardise, scale, and automate customer journeys in a way that is personalised and inclusive has not been straightforward for many FIs. Enter Serene and Appointedd. Through this partnership, Serene and Appointedd will advise on how best to support these customers, provide the tools needed to reach out proactively, and pre-emptively instigate appropriate actions weighted towards the right outcomes for both parties.

So who are Serene and Appointedd?

Serene is an applied intelligence platform for FIs to identify, understand, and support vulnerable customers. They uniquely apply advanced analytics and behavioural science to transaction data to deliver breakthrough capabilities in early risk identification, predictive insights, and tailored support. Co-founded in 2023 by Savannah Price and Pooja Jain, and backed by Stripe, Visa, and UBS alumni, Serene is committed to transforming the financial landscape into a more compassionate and customer-centric space, where all individuals, especially those in vulnerable situations, can rely on their financial service providers to support their financial wellbeing.

Appointedd is an enterprise omnichannel scheduling tool that empowers FIs to better engage with their customers. Appointedd is on a mission to power the best customer journeys that lead to the best customer experiences, in a digital first, human always manner. Appointedd was founded by CEO, Leah Hutcheon, in 2011. Working with the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, two of the Big Four, abrdn, and a large UK financial advisory firm, as well as a strong roster of high-end retail and beauty clients such as Harrods and Charlotte Tilbury, Appointedd currently powers some of the worlds most prestigious brands.

How does the partnership work?

Step 1: Identify

The first step in our joint proposition is to identify. Serene analyses customer financial data in real-time to identify behavioural biomarkers indicative of financial and non-financial vulnerability. It’s important that customers are checked on a continual basis, as people move in or out of vulnerability throughout their life. Delaying identification sets customers up for failure. For example, 75% of individuals suffering from mental health problems have difficulty managing their finances, and 93% report feeling stressed or overwhelmed when having to deal with financial institutions. And so being proactive is a must, not a nice to have. Serene’s data engine simplifies the process and removes manual work from the equation.

Step 2: Understand

The second step is to understand. The four key drivers of vulnerability are health, life events, resilience, and capability. As of 2023, 52% of UK adults had at least one characteristic of vulnerability. Serene builds dynamic vulnerability profiles for each customer, shaping a more nuanced understanding of their specific needs and risks over time. Understanding is particularly important when proposing a product or a service to a customer, as the Consumer Duty requires firms to name the target market of all their products. Serene’s level of granularity enables firms to strengthen customer relationships as you organically deliver positive outcomes and build trust.

Step 3: Respond

The last step is to respond. Four in ten people have severe admin anxiety, leaving them unable to effectively use essential services. Furthermore, customers with poor mental health struggle with cognitive overload, execution function, avoidance cycles, and low energy. Appointedd provides FIs with inclusive digital journeys that empower customers to access the support they need. Customers can only be expected to take responsibility when firms communicate in an understandable manner. Appointedd’s end-to-end solution reduces cognitive load, lowers barriers, and gives the power to the customer in a centric manner.

In conclusion, the partnership between Serene and Appointedd allows you to support vulnerable customers proactively, making it easy for them to get the support they need, when they need it. What to know more about our joint offering? Book a call with our Client Partner, Megan Grant, here.

Published on 15 March 2024