Treasury publishes new PARs customer information requirements

Treasury has published the outcome of its consultation on customer information requirements in the Payment Accounts Regulations (PARs) 2015.

It confirms the government’s intention to revoke Part 2 and Schedules 1 and 2 of the PARs, which were deemed too prescriptive or less necessary in the UK post-Brexit. Treasury also hands over responsibility for detailed firm-facing requirements on customer information requirements to FCA.

Responses to the consultation recognised the importance of transparency in fee information, but differed on how successful or necessary the PARs were in achieving this aim. Banks and industry bodies highlighted the cost of producing Fee Information Documents and noted the duplication of information in those documents in potentially more customer-friendly formats. They also noted that similar information requirements are covered in the PSRs.

There was a general interest in understanding how the incoming Consumer Duty is likely to interact with the current requirements of the PARs. Some respondents argued that the PARs helped fulfil the Duty’s principle of ensuring customer understanding, but many thought the prescriptiveness of PARs-mandated terminology undermined that outcome. In those cases, it was argued that the Duty was a sufficient replacement for the PSRs’ intent to provide transparency to customers.

The majority of respondents considered that the presentational requirements were too rigid and had little justification. Examples given included stylistic requirements of font colour, layout, logo placement and line spacing. Industry bodies highlighted that in some cases these requirements hindered communication with customers by detracting from the core purpose of the document. One firm noted that they could not be applied consistently across paper, online and mobile communications.

Treasury concluded that revoking certain requirements would reduce regulatory burdens on industry and help firms innovate how they provide fee information to give customers a better experience. The changes will take effect on 1 January 2024.

Laura Wiles