The South African National Treasury released the second draft Conduct of Financial Institutions (COFI) Bill for public comment in September 2020.
The Bill sets out a wide-ranging regulatory framework for the conduct of financial institutions.
In this overview, we at Voyc have distilled the content of the second draft to highlight only those aspects that could specifically impact financial services contact centres.
Our aim is to help the management teams of contact centres to prepare in advance for any new requirements that the Bill will impose, once these are published as an Act.
This information reflects our understanding at the current time. We intend to produce additional updates as and when further clarification emerges.
1. Aims of the COFI Bill
The key aims of the Bill that could affect contact centres operationally are:
- To promote the fair treatment and protection of financial customers by financial institutions
- To promote trust and confidence in the financial sector
- To promote financial inclusion
All in all, the Bill aims to deliver better customer outcomes in the financial sector, with a strong focus on fairness and transparency.
2. Core compliance requirements
- Financial institutions must have arrangements in place to comply with the new Act on an ongoing basis and to identify any non-compliance at all times.
- Every person engaged in the customer-facing activities typically handled in a financial services contact centre must be licensed as a representative of the financial institution. These activities include sales, customer service, claims and collections activities.
3. Key Principles
Culture and Governance
- Financial institutions should conduct their business with integrity – honestly, fairly and with due skill, care and diligence.
- Firms should create a corporate culture that aims to ensure that all customers are treated fairly at all times.
- Firms should deal openly and cooperatively with the Authority as required and perform all activities with full transparency.
- Financial institutions must ensure that products and services are promoted and marketed to customers in a way that is clear, fair, unambiguous and not misleading or fraudulent.
- Throughout the process leading to the sale of a product or service, the firm must provide adequate, clear and accurate information. This is to ensure that the customers can make well-informed decisions regarding the suitability of the product or service for their particular needs.
- The firm must make the customer aware of all relevant facts that could reasonably be expected to influence the customer’s decision relating to the product or service being sold, including:
- the benefits and the risks associated with the product or service.
- all costs that the customer will incur in buying the product or service.
- the contractual obligations that the product or service imposes on the customer and the provider – and the consequences of breaching the contract.
- any recourse available to the customer in the event of a dispute relating to the product or service.
- All disclosures that the firm (including contact centre agents) makes to customers must:
- use clear, plain and unambiguous language that is appropriate for the specific audience profile.
- be adequate, appropriate, timely, relevant and complete.
- be factually correct – not misleading or deceptive.
- support the customer’s understanding of the product or service being discussed.
- support the customer’s ability to compare the product or service with similar alternatives in the market.
- take account of the nature and complexity of the product or service being discussed, as well as the customer’s likely level of knowledge, understanding and experience.
Post-sale Requirements and Obligations
- Firms must ensure that customers have ready access to full information and effective customer service support relating to the products and services they have purchased, on an ongoing basis.
- Customers must be given details of a procedure that resolves any complaints they may have, efficiently and effectively and in a fair and transparent manner. Should any complaint be unresolved and lead to a dispute, customers should also be advised of appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms, both internal and external.
- Firms must have systems in place to monitor customer complaints and processes to enable them to manage conduct risks, deliver improved customer outcomes and prevent the recurrence of errors.
We hope that this overview is useful if you are seeking to prepare your contact centre for full compliance with the new COFI Act once finalised.
All in all, we believe that the aims and principles we have highlighted here are sound and reasonable, being focused on the mission to treat customers fairly and with integrity. We envisage that fulfilling these requirements will present no significant issues to the vast majority of South African financial services firms.
Should you require assistance in preparing your contact centre to be fully compliant with the new Act, we’d be delighted to talk to you about how Voyc can help you.
We have extensive experience in supporting regulatory compliance in contact centres – for example, through highlighting the unfair treatment of customers and quickly identifying vulnerable callers.
To learn more, simply complete our contact form, and we’ll get back to you without delay.
“At Voyc, we’re committed to helping financial services customers and providers achieve mutually fair and successful outcomes across all contact centre interactions.
Our speech analytics solution monitors 100% of all conversations in the contact centre – helping companies ensure fair treatment of customers at all times.
Therefore, we’re very positive towards the aims and principles of the new COFI Bill. We think this is a welcome step forward towards ensuring transparent and successful interactions between companies and customers throughout the industry.”
– Matthew Westaway, Co-Founder and CEO, Voyc