MorganAsh’s new chairman highlights how his role will help UK insurance firms

A collection and collation of individual data for firm-level reporting is the “most efficient” way to meet the FCA’s requirements regarding vulnerable customers.

That was according to Johnny Timpson, who spoke exclusively to Insurance Times about his ambitions in his new role as MorganAsh’s new chairman, following his appointment earlier this week (23 January 2024).

MorganAsh is a support services provider to the financial services and utilities sectors. Its services include absence intervention, medical underwriting, teleinterviewing, online data gathering and vulnerability management.

“February marks the third anniversary of the FCA FG21/1 Guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers, with this subsequently built on by phase one and, shortly, phase two of the FCA’s Consumer Duty – requiring firms to be able to demonstrate their vulnerable customers receive outcomes which are always just as good as those consumers who are resilient,” Timpson says.

“To do this, firms need data – with evidence at a level of granularity where they can identify different vulnerable groups, such as the bereaved, divorced, those with sight loss or who have financial issues like economic abuse.

“This data is needed at an individual level – to treat the consumer appropriately – and at a firm level – to report to the board,” he added.

The FCA’s FG21/1 finalised guidance was published on 22 February 2021 – the document highlights actions firms should take to understand the needs of vulnerable customers and, in turn, ensure they are treated fairly.

Meanwhile, the 12-month implementation period for phase one of the Consumer Duty – which aims to increase the current level of consumer protection in the financial services market, gave firms until 31 July 2023 to make the required changes regarding open products and services.

Phase two provided firms with a further 12 months to implement and comply with the duty for closed products or services and comes into force on 31 July 2024.

Timpson explains the “most efficient” way for UK insurance firms to meet the regulator’s requirements is to “collect and collate individual data for firm-level reporting”.

“This may seem a daunting task – especially if it’s undertaken manually,” he says.

Timpson’s sentiments follow Davies warning that “significant gaps” remained in identifying and protecting vulnerable consumers within the insurance and financial sector in November 2023. 

Government ‘impetus’

The support services provider’s new chairman highlighted, however, that MorganAsh launched the MorganAsh Resilience System (Mars) software in April 2022 to address the task of collecting and collating that data.

And, as a result, Timpson says he is “pleased to be involved in facilitating – in a practical way – how our [insurance] industry can treat vulnerable customers better”.

He explains: “The Mars vulnerability system is a major leap forward in supporting regulated firms – to help them better understand and focus on the needs and preferences of consumers, rather than simply sell individual products.

“It additionally aids financial services firms in meeting Consumer Duty’s vulnerability regulations.

“It’s important to appreciate that improving vulnerable customer service, support and outcome is not just an FCA initiative, as the impetus for looking after vulnerable customers comes directly from government.”

As part of his role, Timpson adds that, alongside the MorganAsh team, he is “committed to sharing learning what works and best practice on a cross sector basis” – from insurance to utilities.

And, considering its cross-sector expertise, the firm urges the FCA to “collaborate with other UK regulators and look at smart data sharing” to better help vulnerable customers across the board.

“Having collaborated with financial services industry support services company MorganAsh on a number of industry initiatives to improve customer experience and outcomes over the last 20 years, I’m now delighted to join the firm as chair,” he says.

Timpson brings more than 40 years of experience within the insurance and protection sectors to the team and succeeds Jim Randal, who has stepped down after chairing MorganAsh since its inception in 2004.

Timpson’s experience includes founding the Group for Autism, Insurance, Investment and Neurodiversity (Gain) and he currently holds numerous positions across the industry – including serving on the Financial Inclusion Commission (FIC) and as a member of Biba’s Access to Insurance Committee. He also runs his own business, Johnny Timpson Consulting.

MorganAsh managing director Andrew Gething says Timpson is “widely recognised as an industry leader on consumer vulnerability and we are delighted he is joining us”.

“We have ambitious growth plans across both the financial and utility sectors – to provide easy to use, secure systems and services which enable firms to understand and help those consumers with vulnerabilities,” Gething adds.

“Our Mars system is already helping firms to identify previously unknown consumer vulnerabilities – and changing the way firms manage these customers, as well as meeting the FCA’s Consumer Duty requirements.”