The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) has launched a guide to help finance providers identify and support vulnerable customers during credit applications.

Released in conjunction with the UK Cards Association, and drawn up by the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC), the guide, entitled Vulnerability: a guide for lending, draws on staff experiences to help address issues.

The guide introduced a new protocol, BRUCE, to help staff assess through a customer’s behaviour if they have problems remembering, understanding, communicating, or evaluating the credit options, and deciding to enter a credit agreement.

Stephen Sklaroff, director general of the FLA, said: “[The guide] offers the industry a comprehensive set of measures to support customers who are applying for credit – whether face-to-face, over the phone, through an intermediary or online.”

The guide marks the second part of a PFRC research project undertaken by Chris Fitch and Jamie Evans, the first having been a report on debt collection and vulnerable customers in March.

Sklaroff added: “This guide, and the parallel report on debt collection published in March, provide the industry with an effective way to help identify and support vulnerable customers across the full credit card cycle.”