What we are doing

Our role is to represent the interests of consumers in the development of policy for the regulation of financial services.  Here we set out some of the current issues that the Panel is pursuing and what we’re doing about them.

 

Our key priorities for 2012/13 are:

  • The shape of future financial services regulation;
  • The future effectives of the FCA as a conduct regulator;
  • Consumer Credit Regulation;
  • Poor practices in general insurance;
  • Decumulation; and
  • Effective consumer representation at EU level.

Current issues

The effective regulation of business conduct

The approach and effectiveness of the new FCA as a conduct regulator, will determine whether the much needed culture change in financial services occurs. We are pleased with the tough mandate given to the FCA to act more swiftly. Decisive action to prevent potential detriment before it occurs will help deliver better consumer outcomes.


More on the the regulation of business conduct

Consumer credit regulation

The transfer of consumer credit regulation from the Office of Fair Trading to the FCA in April 2014 will be highly significant.  The FCA’s interim regime will come into force on 1 April 2014 with the full regime planned to be introduced in 2016.  We have been strongly supportive of the changes. A single regulator will provide a consistent and integrated regulatory approach with more resource than the OFT.

More on the future regulation of consumer credit

Banking

With the Financial Services (Banking) Reform Bill making its way through Parliament, LIBOR repercussions and the ongoing reverberations of the 2008 crash, banking has seldom been out of the public eye.

We made numerous submissions and consultation responses on banking, including representations to the Parliamentary Commission on a range of issues, as well as to the Treasury and BIS consultation on the banking sector.

More on banking

Mortgages

A mortgage represents the largest single purchase most consumers will ever make. We have therefore paid close attention to both the recent FSA Mortgage Market Review (MMR) and more recent developments such as the EU Mortgage Directive (CARRP). We are also concerned about the plight of mortgage prisoners and will keep this area under close scrutiny over the coming years.

More on mortgages

General insurance

Nearly everyone buys General Insurance (GI) products, from compulsory policies such as motor insurance, to add-ons like gadget cover. In recent times the market has adapted to changing consumer demands and technological advances. Due to increasing numbers of complaints, the Panel has become increasingly concerned about poor practices in general insurance.  There is growing concern over the quality of products and access to suitable, affordable cover. 

More on general insurance

Saving for later life

Half of all people yet to retire are not contributing to a pension. The situation for women is worse, with large numbers now not saving anything at all for retirement.  Research has also demonstrated that nearly two thirds of consumers do not know how much money they need to save for their pension.

More on saving for later life

Income in later life

The process of converting savings into an income for retirement was always unsatisfactory and has become a much greater problem with the withdrawal of defined benefit pension schemes in the private sector.

More on income in later life

Regulatory reform and the Financial Services Act 2012

The Financial Services Act 2012 is now in force. During the passage of the Bill the Panel called for changes to the legislation to increase the rights of consumers and to strengthen consumer protection.

More on regulatory reform

Effective representation at EU level

In 2006 around seventy percent of changes to the FSA Handbook resulted from new EU requirements. The Consumer Panel's EU strategy aims to influence the development of EU financial services policymaking for the benefit of consumers.

More on European regulatory and legislative issues

The RDR and simple financial products

We hailed the arrival, in December 2012, of the end of commission for advised sales of investments with the introduction of the RDR. We had consistently argued that the RDR requirements around greater transparency of charges would enable consumers to assess value for money and, ultimately, encourage them to shop around. 

More on the RDR and simple financial products

Money Advice Service (MAS)

We commented on the Money Advice Service’s business plan in February 2013. We thought it was a considerable improvement on previous plans, with clearer focus and prioritisation. We commended the Money Advice Service for the work it is proposing on lifestyle, customer segmentation, product choice and customer satisfaction

More on the Money Advice Service (MAS)

Compensation and redress

Over the last few years the FSA started to take a tougher stance on enforcement with the levying of larger fines. We commended this approach and urged the FCA to go further. We have continued to praise the work of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) remains high on our agenda.

More on the compensation and redress

Consumer vulnerability

We have been concerned that terms such as consumer disadvantage’ and ‘vulnerability’ are used interchangeably in the public debate. As a result we published a paper on defining consumer disadvantage and vulnerability in December 2012.

More on consumer vulnerability

Getting the balance right between firms and consumers

One of the key issues that arose out of the debate on financial services legislation was the balance of knowledge and power between industry and consumers. It is often the case that the financial services industry has a hugely disproportionate balance of knowledge when compared to its customers. 

More on getting the balance right

Terms of reference

Beyond our statutory remit in the Financial Services Act 2012, we have formal terms of reference agreed with the FCA which set out our role and responsibility

Terms of reference

How we advise the FCA

Panel members meet with FCA staff to regularly question their policy developments, as well as representing the FSCP at appropriate events

More on advising the FCA