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Guest blog: Trust Matters

Paul Marden, FairLife Executive, shares the vision behind the development of the FairLife Mark and how it champions those that pledge to meet a set of standards.

This article was first published in Society Matters magazine.

Paul Marsden, FairLife CharityIt was in the wake of the financial crisis in early 2013 when Dr. Paul Boscott and Stuart Phillips, two financial services professionals, got together with a germ of an idea on how to raise standards in financial services. 
 
Bank failures, collapses and bail-outs exposed poor practices in many institutions.  Paul and Stuart were determined to make a change, to rebuild consumer confidence in financial products and services.  
 
Consumers had lost trust and even those organisations that behaved well and weathered the storm were unfairly tarnished.  
 
Fast forward to today and the vision is a reality.  

The FairLife Charity has developed a fair trading mark which recognises financial product providers committed to pricing honestly and trading fairly with their customers.  The mark champions those that pledge to meet a set of standards, guiding customers to everyday financial products they can trust. 
 
The Charity is led by a strong and experienced Board of Trustees and supported by members of parliament and FS trade bodies, including BSA, ABCUL and UK Finance. 
 
The fair-trading proposition is simple. The FairLife Mark is a badge of trust, highlighting firms that customers can deal with confidently. That confidence leading to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The charity has started by badging the industry’s best-run products, which include savings and mortgages, so there is a natural fit with the mutual sector. 

It has been acknowledged that to gain trust:

“the industry must become better at conveying the good things that it does”

(Carol McNaughton Nicholls Managing Partner, Thinks Insight & Strategy) 

Mutuals and social enterprises already put their customers first, requiring little or no adjustments to the way they operate in order to meet the marks’ standards. As such, for mutuals the FairLife Mark makes sense commercially and ethically. 
 
The charity has a second strand to its mission – to provide an ambitious programme of financial education within schools and colleges to equip the future generation with the knowledge and confidence needed to make good financial decisions throughout their lives. Combining fair trading and financial education creates a virtuous circle that benefits both; leading to trusted companies, providing better products, to financial educated customers.

By 2023 the mark had garnered support from 20% of building societies, 3 already proudly displaying the FairLife Mark in branches, on web pages and in marketing material, enjoying the benefits of a highly visible logo synonymous with trust. A third of ABCUL credit unions had also made the pledge complimenting support from the wider industry.  

With the advent of the new consumer duty and trust being acknowledged as central to good customer outcomes interest in the mark has grown.  As a result, 2024 looks to be an even busier year with more firms joining the FairLife family and with an expanded marketing campaign planned to raise awareness of the mark.

Driven by social purpose, the sector leads the industry for customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance and trust, so it can be hugely beneficial to advertise this to current and future members to help boost sales and loyalty.

We hope that most BSA members will support the FairLife Mark before the status of Founding Member is removed. Giving them the maximum benefit today and evidencing long into the future how a mark destined to become a household name owes its heritage to BSA members and their mutual ethos. 

To find out more: www.fairlifecharity.org 

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