The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued detailed guidelines to financial services firms in response to the quickly-spreading coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The regulator has asked financial institutions to offer customers increased flexibility across both secured and unsecured debt.

FCA said that it is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation.

“We expect firms to provide strong support and service to customers during this period. They should be clear and transparent and provide support as consumers and small businesses face challenges at this time,” the regulator said in its press statement.

“We also expect firms to manage their financial resilience and actively manage their liquidity. Firms should report to us immediately if they believe they will be in difficulty.”

The banking watchdog also lavished praises on institutions that have permitted customers to withdraw funds from savings accounts that usually invite a fine for taking cash out early.

”We welcome firms taking initiatives going beyond usual business practices to support their customers.”

In order to give banks more time to focus on clients, the watchdog has decided to delay or postpone activity it did not deem critical to protecting consumers and market integrity in the short-term.

Consequently, closing date for responses to the regulator’s open consultation papers and calls for input has been extended till 1 October 2020.

The financial watchdog has also decided to reschedule “most” other planned work.

The regulator also cautioned financial firms to continue dealing with complaints promptly.

All customer complaints should be resolved within eight weeks (15 days for payments firms). In case they cannot, customers must be given written explanation regarding the same.

“However, where the pandemic prevents these firms should contact us; we understand the pressures firms will be under,” the FCA added.

Recently, mortgage lenders across the UK have announced plans to allow people affected by the coronavirus outbreak to defer mortgage and loan repayments.

Several UK banks have decided to offer loan repayment holiday to support homeowners affected by the coronavirus.

As more customers are seeking ways to avoid public places amid the coronavirus pandemic, banks are increasingly encouraging the use of their online and mobile banking.

Here is the definitive timeline exploring coronavirus (Covid-19) from its initial outbreak to today, taking a precise look at its effects on financial services.