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CONC 5.1 Application

CONC 5.1.1 R

This chapter applies to a firm with respect to consumer credit lending, unless otherwise stated in, or in relation to, a rule.

CONC 5.2 Creditworthiness assessment: before agreement

CONC 5.2.1 R
  1. (1)

    Before making a regulated credit agreement the firm must undertake an assessment of the creditworthiness of the customer.

    [Note: section 55B(1) of CCA]

  2. (2)

    A firm carrying out the assessment required in (1) must consider:

    1. (a)

      the potential for the commitments under the regulated credit agreement to adversely impact the customer's financial situation, taking into account the information of which the firm is aware at the time the regulated credit agreement is to be made; and

      [Note: paragraph 4.1 of ILG]

    2. (b)

      the ability of the customer to make repayments as they fall due over the life of the regulated credit agreement, or for such an agreement which is an open-end agreement, to make repayments within a reasonable period.

      [Note: paragraph 4.3 of ILG]

  3. (3)

    A creditworthiness assessment must be based on sufficient information obtained from:

    1. (a)

      the customer, where appropriate; and

    2. (b)

      a credit reference agency, where necessary.

      [Note: section 55B(3) of CCA]

  4. (4)

    This rule does not apply to:

    1. (a)

      an agreement secured on land; or

    2. (b)

      an agreement under which a person takes an article in pawn.

      [Note: section 55B(4) of CCA]

  5. (5)

    This rule does not apply, except to the agreements in (6), to:

    1. (a)

      a non-commercial agreement; or

    2. (b)

      a borrower-lender agreement enabling the borrower to overdraw on a current account; or

    3. (c)

      a small borrower-lender-supplier agreement for restricted-use credit.

      [Note: section 74 of CCA]

  6. (6)

    The agreements referred to in (5) and therefore to which this rule does apply are:

    1. (a)

      a borrower-lender agreement enabling the borrower to overdraw on a current account which is an authorised business overdraft agreement or an authorised non-business overdraft agreement; and

      [Note: section 74(1B) and (1C) of CCA]

    2. (b)

      a borrower-lender agreement enabling the borrower to overdraw on a current account which would be an authorised non-business overdraft agreement but for the fact that the credit is not repayable on demand or within three months.

      [Note: section 74(1D) of CCA]

  7. (7)

    Where the borrower-lender agreement in question is to finance the making of payments arising on or connected with the death of a person, this rule applies to the agreement to the extent the payments are:

    1. (a)

      inheritance tax chargeable in the UK on the death of any person;

    2. (b)

      fees payable to a court:

      1. (i)

        in England, Wales or Northern Ireland on an application for a grant of probate or of letters of administration;

      2. (ii)

        in Scotland, in connection with a grant of confirmation; and

      3. (iii)

        in the UK, on an application for resealing of a Commonwealth or colonial grant of probate or of letters of administration; and

    3. (c)

      payments in England, Wales or Northern Ireland to a surety in connection with a guarantee required as a condition of a grant of letters of administration or payments in Scotland to a cautioner in connection with a bond of caution required as a condition of issuing a grant of confirmation.

      [Note: section 74(1F) of CCA and SI 1983/1554]

    [Note: article 8 of the Consumer Credit Directive]

Scope of the pre-contract assessments

CONC 5.2.2 R
  1. (1)

    Before entering into a regulated credit agreement which is excluded from CONC 5.2.1 R (see (4), (5) and (6)), a firm must carry out an assessment of the potential for the commitments under the agreement to adversely impact the customer's financial situation, taking into account the information of which the firm is aware at the time the agreement is to be made.

    [Note: paragraphs 1.14 and 4.1 of ILG]

  2. (2)

    Paragraph (1) does not apply to an agreement to which CONC 4.7.2R (1) applies (overrunning).

  3. (3)

    A firm must consider sufficient information to enable it to make a reasonable creditworthiness assessment or a reasonable assessment required by (1).

    [Note: paragraph 4.21 of ILG]

CONC 5.2.3 G

The extent and scope of the creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1), in a given case, should be dependent upon and proportionate to factors which may include one or more of the following:

  1. (1)

    the type of credit;

  2. (2)

    the amount of the credit;

  3. (3)

    the cost of the credit;

  4. (4)

    the financial position of the customer at the time of seeking the credit;

  5. (5)

    the customer's credit history, including any indications that the customer is experiencing or has experienced financial difficulties;

  6. (6)

    the customer's existing financial commitments including any repayments due in respect of other credit agreements, consumer hire agreements, regulated mortgage contracts, payments for rent, council tax, electricity, gas, telecommunications, water and other major outgoings known to the firm;

  7. (7)

    any future financial commitments of the customer;

  8. (8)

    any future changes in circumstances which could be reasonably expected to have a significant financial adverse impact on the customer;

  9. (9)

    the vulnerability of the customer, in particular where the firm understands the customer has some form of mental capacity limitation or reasonably suspects this to be so because the customer displays indications of some form of mental capacity limitation (see CONC 2.10).

    [Note: paragraph 4.10 of ILG]

Proportionality of assessments

CONC 5.2.4 G
  1. (1)

    To consider all of the factors set out in CONC 5.2.3 G in all cases is likely to be disproportionate.

    [Note: paragraph 4.11 of ILG]

  2. (2)

    A firm should consider what is appropriate in any particular circumstances dependent on, for example, the type and amount of the credit being sought and the potential risks to the customer. The risk of credit not being sustainable directly relates to the amount of credit granted and the total charge for credit relative to the customer's financial situation.

    [Note: paragraph 4.11 and part of 4.16 of ILG]

  3. (3)

    A firm should consider the types and sources of information to use in its creditworthiness assessment and assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1), which may, depending on the circumstances, include some or all of the following:

    1. (a)

      its record of previous dealings;

    2. (b)

      evidence of income;

    3. (c)

      evidence of expenditure;

    4. (d)

      a credit score;

    5. (e)

      a credit reference agency report; and

    6. (f)

      information provided by the customer.

      [Note: paragraph 4.12 of ILG]

  4. (3A)

    Where the customer is borrowing for the purposes of a business, it may be reasonable to have regard to the customer’s business plan for the purposes of an assessment required by CONC 5.2.1R or CONC 5.2.2R, but the assessment should not be based solely on that business plan.1

  5. (3B)

    Where there is more than one customer acting together as ‘joint borrowers’, the lender should consider whether it may be appropriate to assess each customer in accordance with CONC 5.2.1R or CONC 5.2.2R separately (as well as collectively), having regard to the risk to that customer arising from the credit being sought were the customer to be treated as being solely responsible for obligations of the joint borrowers under the agreement. (Where the borrower is a partnership or an unincorporated association, the members or partners may be treated as a single customer.)1

  6. (4)

    A high level of scrutiny in the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) would normally be expected before the lender enters into a regulated credit agreement secured by a second or subsequent charge on the customer's home.

    [Note: paragraph 4.17 of ILG]

Creditworthiness assessment where there is a guarantor etc

CONC 5.2.5 R
  1. (1)

    1This rule applies if, in relation to a regulated credit agreement:

    1. (a)

      an individual other than the borrower (in this rule referred to as “the guarantor”) is to provide a guarantee or an indemnity (or both); and

    2. (b)

      the lender is required to undertake an assessment of the customer under CONC 5.2.1R or CONC 5.2.2R.

  2. (2)

    Before entering into the regulated credit agreement, the lender must undertake an assessment of the potential for the guarantor’s commitments in respect of the regulated credit agreement to adversely impact the guarantor’s financial situation.

  3. (3)

    A firm must consider sufficient information to enable it to make a reasonable assessment under this rule, taking into account the information of which the firm is aware at the time the regulated credit agreement is to be made.

  4. (4)

    For the purposes of (2), CONC 5.2.3G, CONC 5.2.4G and CONC 5.3.1G to CONC 5.3.8G apply as if:

    1. (a)

      references to the customer were references to the guarantor; and

    2. (b)

      references to CONC 5.2.2R(1) were references to CONC 5.2.5R(2).

  5. (5)

    For the purposes of this rule, a guarantee does not include a legal or equitable mortgage or a pledge.

CONC 5.2.6 G
  1. (1)

    1The assessment of the guarantor does not need to be identical to the assessment undertaken in respect of the borrower, but should be sufficient in depth and scope having regard to the potential obligations which might fall on the guarantor.

  2. (2)

    The provision of the guarantee or indemnity (or both), and the assessment of the guarantor under CONC 5.2.5R, does not remove or reduce the obligation on the lender to carry out an assessment of the borrower under CONC 5.2.1R or CONC 5.2.2R. Firms are reminded of the rule in CONC 5.3.4R that the assessment of the borrower must not be based primarily or solely on the value of any security provided by the borrower.

CONC 5.3 Conduct of business in relation to creditworthiness and affordability

Creditworthiness and sustainability

CONC 5.3.1 G
  1. (1)

    In making the creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1), a firm should take into account more than assessing the customer's ability to repay the credit.

    [Note: paragraph 4.2 of ILG]

  2. (2)

    The creditworthiness assessment and the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) should include the firm taking reasonable steps to assess the customer's ability to meet repayments under a regulated credit agreement in a sustainable manner without the customer incurring financial difficulties or experiencing significant adverse consequences.

    [Note: paragraph 4.1 (box) and 4.2 of ILG]

  3. (3)

    A firm in making its creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) may take into account future increases in income or future decreases in expenditure, where there is appropriate evidence of the change and the repayments are expected to be sustainable in the light of the change.

    [Note: paragraph 4.9 of ILG]

  4. (4)

    If a firm takes income or expenditure into account in its creditworthiness assessment or its assessment required under CONC 5.2.2R (1):

    1. (a)

      the firm should take account of actual current income or expenditure and reasonably expected future income or expenditure (to the extent it is proportionate to do so) where it is reasonably foreseeable that it will differ from actual current income or expenditure over the anticipated repayment period of the agreement;

    2. (b)

      it is not generally sufficient for a firm to rely solely for its assessment of the customer's income and expenditure, on a statement of those matters made by the customer;

    3. (c)

      its assessment should be based on what the firm knows at the time of the assessment.

      [Note: paragraph 4.13, 4.14 and 4.15 of ILG]

  5. (5)

    An example of where it may be reasonable to take into account expected future income would be, in the case of loans to fund the provision of further or higher education, provided that an appropriate assessment required by this chapter is carried out and there is an appropriate exercise of forbearance in respect of initial repayments, for example, deferring or limiting the obligation to repay until the customer's income has reached a specified level. Any assumptions regarding future income should be reasonable and capable of substantiation in the individual case and the products should be designed in a way to minimise the risks to the customer.

    [Note: footnote 21 to paragraph 4.9 (box) of ILG

  6. (6)

    For the purposes of CONC “sustainable” means the repayments under the regulated credit agreement can be made by the customer:

    1. (a)

      without undue difficulties, in particular:

      1. (i)

        the customer should be able to make repayments on time, while meeting other reasonable commitments; and

      2. (ii)

        without having to borrow to meet the repayments;

    2. (b)

      over the life of the agreement, or for such an agreement which is an open-end agreement, within a reasonable period; and

    3. (c)

      out of income and savings without having to realise security or assets; and

    “unsustainable” has the opposite meaning.

    [Note: paragraphs 4.3 and 4.4 of ILG]

  7. (7)

    For a regulated credit agreement which is an open-end agreement the firm, in making its creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1), should:

    1. (a)

      make a reasonable assessment of whether the customer is able to meet the repayments in a sustainable manner; and

    2. (b)

      make the assessment based on reasonable assumptions about the likely duration of the credit.

      [Note: paragraph 4.5 of ILG]

  8. (8)

    For a regulated credit agreement for running-account credit the firm, in making its creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1):

    1. (a)

      should consider the customer's ability to repay the maximum amount of credit available (equivalent to the credit limit) under the agreement within a reasonable period;

    2. (b)

      may, in considering what is a reasonable period in which to repay the maximum amount of credit available, have regard to the typical time required for repayment that would apply to a fixed-sum unsecured personal loan for an amount equal to the credit limit; and

    3. (c)

      should not use the assumption of the amount necessary to make only the minimum repayment each month.

      [Note: paragraph 4.6 of ILG]

  9. (9)

    For a regulated credit agreement for running-account credit the firm should set the credit limit based on the creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) and taking into account the matters in CONC 5.2.3 G, and, in particular, the information it has on the customer's current disposable income taking into account any reasonably foreseeable future changes.

    [Note: paragraph 4.6 (box) of ILG]

  10. (10)

    An example of a reasonably foreseeable future change in disposable income which a firm should take into account in setting a credit limit may include where a customer is known to be, or it is reasonably foreseeable that a customer is, close to retirement and faces a significant fall in disposable income.

    [Note: paragraph 4.6 (box) of ILG]

  11. (11)

    Where a firm requests information from a customer for its creditworthiness assessment or its assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) and the information provided by the customer is false and the firm has no reason to know this is the case, the firm should not contravene CONC 5.2.1 R or CONC 5.2.2 R.

    [Note: paragraph 4.10 of ILG]

  12. (12)

    Subject to the relevant legal constraints, FCA encourages the sharing between lenders of accurate data about the performance of a customer's account and the settlement of outstanding debts, as the process of making the assessments in this chapter is assisted by lenders registering such data with credit reference agencies, in a timely manner.

CONC 5.3.2 R

A firm must establish and implement clear and effective policies and procedures to make a reasonable creditworthiness assessment or a reasonable assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1).

[Note: paragraph 4.19 of ILG]

CONC 5.3.3 G

Under the procedures required by CONC 5.3.2 R a firm should take adequate steps, insofar as it is reasonable and practicable to do so, to ensure that information (including information supplied by the customer) on an application for credit relevant to a creditworthiness assessment or an assessment required byCONC 5.2.2R (1) is complete and correct.

[Note: paragraph 4.29 of ILG]

Unfair business practices: lenders

CONC 5.3.4 R

A firm must not base its creditworthiness assessment, or its assessment required under CONC 5.2.2R (1), primarily or solely on the value of any security provided by the customer, but this rule does not apply in relation to a regulated credit agreement under which the firm takes an article in pawn and the customer's total financial liability (including capital, interest and all other charges) is limited under the agreement to the proceeds of sale which would represent the true market value (within the meaning of section 121 of the CCA) of the article or articles pawned by the customer.1

1
CONC 5.3.5 R

A firm must not advise or encourage a customer to enter into a regulated credit agreement for an amount of credit higher than the customer initially requested if the creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1) indicates that repayment of the higher amount would not be sustainable or the firm ought reasonably to suspect that that is the case.

[Note: paragraph 4.28 of ILG]

CONC 5.3.6 R

A firm must not complete some or all of those parts of an application for credit under a regulated credit agreement intended to be completed by the customer, without the consent of the customer, unless the customer is permitted to check the application before signing the agreement.

[Note: paragraph 4.30 of ILG]

CONC 5.3.7 R

A firm must not accept an application for credit under a regulated credit agreement where the firm knows or ought reasonably to suspect that the customer has not been truthful in completing the application in relation to information supplied by the customer relevant to the creditworthiness assessment or the assessment required by CONC 5.2.2R (1).

[Note: paragraph 4.31 of ILG]

CONC 5.3.8 G

An example of where a firm ought reasonably to suspect that the customer has not been truthful may be that the information supplied by the customer concerning income or employment status is clearly inconsistent with other available information.

CONC 5.4 Conduct of business: credit brokers

Application

CONC 5.4.1 R

This section applies to a firm with respect to credit broking.

Conduct of business

CONC 5.4.2 R
  1. (1)

    In giving explanations or advice, or in making recommendations, a firm must pay due regard to the customer's needs and circumstances.

  2. (2)

    In complying with (1) a firm must pay due regard to whether the credit product is affordable and whether there are any factors that the firm knows, or reasonably ought to know, that may make the product unsuitable for that customer.

    [Note: paragraphs 4.32 to 4.36 of CBG]

CONC 5.4.3 R

A firm which undertakes to search the product market or a part of it before effecting an introduction must, before doing so, search the product market to the extent stated to the customer.

[Note: paragraph 4.41j of CBG]

CONC 5.5 Creditworthiness assessment: P2P agreements

[Note: Until the end of 30 September 2014, transitional provisions apply to CONC 5.5: see CONC TP 4.2]

Application

CONC 5.5.1 R

This section applies to a firm with respect to operating an electronic system in relation to lending in relation to a prospective borrower under a P2P agreement.

CONC 5.5.2 G
  1. (1)

    This section contains rules that apply to the person operating the electronic system that facilitates persons becoming lenders and borrowers under P2P agreements, in contrast to CONC 5.2 which applies to the lender.

  2. (2)

    A P2P agreement may also be a credit agreement or a regulated credit agreement in which case applicable provisions of the CCA or CONC will apply to such agreements. The extent to which CCA provisions apply to a lender will depend largely on whether the lender makes the credit agreement in the course of carrying on a business.

Creditworthiness assessment

CONC 5.5.3 R
  1. (1)

    Before a P2P agreement is made, a firm must undertake an assessment of the creditworthiness of the prospective borrower.

  2. (2)

    A firm carrying out the assessment in (1) must consider:

    1. (a)

      the potential for the commitments under the P2P agreement to adversely impact the prospective borrower's financial situation, taking into account the information of which the firm is aware at the time the P2P agreement is to be made; and

    2. (b)

      the ability of the prospective borrower to make repayments as they fall due over the life of the P2P agreement, or for such an agreement which is an open-end agreement, to make repayments within a reasonable period.

  3. (3)

    A creditworthiness assessment must be based on sufficient information obtained from:

    1. (a)

      a prospective borrower, where appropriate; and

    2. (b)

      a credit reference agency, where necessary.

  4. (4)

    This rule does not apply to an agreement under which a person takes an article in pawn.

CONC 5.5.4 R

Where CONC 5.5.3 R applies to a firm, the firm must comply with CONC 5.3.2 R, CONC 5.3.4 R, CONC 5.3.5 R, CONC 5.3.6 R and CONC 5.3.7 R to the same extent as if it were the lender under an agreement to which those rules apply and should take into account the guidance in CONC 5.3 to the same extent, and should also take into account CONC 5.2.3 G and CONC 5.2.4 G treating them as guidance on CONC 5.5.3 R.

CONC 5.5.5 R

A firm must consider sufficient information to enable it to make a reasonable assessment required by CONC 5.5.3 R.

[Note: paragraph 4.21 of ILG]

CONC 5.5.6 R

Before a P2P agreement is entered into under which a person takes an article in pawn, the firm must:

  1. (1)

    undertake the assessment referred to in CONC 5.2.2R (1) of the prospective borrower; and

  2. (2)

    comply with CONC 5.3.2 R, CONC 5.3.4 R, CONC 5.3.5 R, CONC 5.3.6 R and CONC 5.3.7 R to the same extent as if it were the lender under an agreement to which those rules apply, and should also take into account the guidance in CONC 5.2.3 G and CONC 5.2.4 G and CONC 5.3 to the same extent.

Creditworthiness assessment where there is a guarantor etc

CONC 5.5.7 R
  1. (1)

    1This rule applies if, in relation to a P2P agreement:

    1. (a)

      the prospective borrower is an individual;

    2. (b)

      an individual other than the borrower (in this rule referred to as “the guarantor”) is to provide a guarantee or an indemnity (or both); and

    3. (c)

      the firm is required to undertake an assessment of the prospective borrower under CONC 5.5.3R.

  2. (2)

    Before the P2P agreement is made, the firm must undertake an assessment of the potential for the guarantor’s commitments in respect of the P2P agreement to adversely impact the guarantor’s financial situation.

  3. (3)

    A firm must consider sufficient information to enable it to make a reasonable assessment under this rule, taking into account the information of which the firm is aware at the time the P2P agreement is to be made.

  4. (4)

    For the purposes of (2), CONC 5.2.3G, CONC 5.2.4G and CONC 5.3.1G to CONC 5.3.8G apply as if:

    1. (a)

      references to the customer were references to the guarantor;

    2. (b)

      references to CONC 5.2.2R(1) were references to CONC 5.5.7R(2); and

    3. (c)

      references to the regulated credit agreement were references to the P2P agreement.

  5. (5)

    For the purposes of this rule, a guarantee does not include a legal or equitable mortgage or a pledge.

CONC 5.5.8 G
  1. (1)

    1The assessment of the guarantor does not need to be identical to the assessment undertaken in respect of the borrower, but should be sufficient in depth and scope having regard to the potential obligations which might fall on the guarantor.

  2. (2)

    The provision of the guarantee or indemnity (or both), and the assessment of the guarantor under CONC 5.5.7R, does not remove or reduce the obligation on the firm to carry out an assessment of the borrower under CONC 5.5.3R. Firms are reminded of the rule in CONC 5.3.4R that the assessment of the borrower must not be based primarily or solely on the value of any security provided by the borrower.