Olympian effort needed to effect real change in financial services says Consumer Panel
With the Olympics looming large in 2012 and the new Bill to restructure financial services regulation, the Financial Services Consumer Panel is also aiming high with its priorities for the financial services industry.
Its wish list includes:
- A truly competitive retail banking market. There are already reasons to be cheerful with the government backing the recommendations made by the Independent Commission on Banking to split investment and retail banking. The Panel would like to see more customer-focused banks encouraged to enter the market; a real debate exposing the 'free if in credit' banking myth which arguably defends a lacklustre status quo; and a regulatory push to tackle inappropriate sales and incentives practices;
- A respected advice market, genuinely pro-consumer and perceived as good value. The launch of the Money Advice Service and the Retail Distribution Review are a good start, but the Panel would like to see the industry exploring different advice models which provide real value for the majority of customers who are not wealthy and adopting a duty of care to its clients, ensuring customer needs come first by eliminating conflicts of interest;
- Decent, reliable products which deliver what they promise and which will help restore confidence - this is especially the case for savings, protection insurance and retirement;
- A mortgage market which lends responsibly is good value and provides the home loans consumers need; and
- Better consumer protection, with the development of effective twin peaks regulation and a dynamic Financial Conduct Authority with the appetite to make a real difference for the industry's customers.
Adam Phillips, Chair of the Consumer Panel, commented:
"The Panel will continue to carry a torch for enhanced consumer protection in 2012. There is a real opportunity next year to change the financial services market for the better.
We urge the Government to use the opportunity created by the new Financial Services Bill to create gold medal class regulation which will rebuild trust and encourage the industry to provide better service and better value"
Notes to editors
- The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and was initially established by the Financial Services Authority in December 1998. The Panel advises the FSA on the interests and concerns of consumers and reports on the FSA's performance in meeting its objectives.
- The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FSA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FSA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on this website.