FCA encourages firms to do more to support ageing population

A Discussion Paper published today by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is encouraging firms to do more to support the UK’s ageing population and ensure that consumers can access the financial products and services they need at every stage of their life.  

Discussion Paper on Ageing Population

Changing demographics and trends in health and society mean that developing more inclusive financial products and services is increasingly important. The FCA’s Ageing Population Discussion Paper is an important first step in our conversation with firms, consumer groups, and other stakeholders to determine how the regulator and industry can work together to address the range of issues facing older consumers, when they engage with financial services.

Tracey McDermott, acting chief executive of the FCA, said:

“The number of people aged over 65 in the UK is expected to increase by 1.1 million in the next five years. There is a real and urgent challenge for the financial services sector to develop new and innovative products to meet the needs of our changing population.

“The publication of this discussion paper is intended to stimulate debate and discussion about these needs and how to meet them. Ultimately, the industry must take the lead but we recognise that the FCA has a key part to play in ensuring we encourage appropriate innovation that also provides proper levels of protection for consumers. This work will help us and the industry to develop our approach with the benefit of insights from others, in particular those representing the end consumers of these services.”

Issues surrounding the ageing population

Insights from our stakeholders show that products and services can be designed for a ‘typical’ consumer and are not flexible enough to capture individual situations. Firms and consumer organisations have told the FCA that it is more important than ever that financial products and services are able to adapt to meet the diversity of needs that are relevant for older consumers.

It is not just people aged over 65 that firms should consider when developing products for an ageing population. It is important that younger people have access to information and services that they will benefit from when they are older, to enable consumers to be able to prepare themselves appropriately for the future.

Next steps

The FCA is working with stakeholders, including industry, trade bodies, consumer groups, and the public sector to discuss experiences, best practice and potential approaches to the issues raised by the ageing population project. The FCA will also be undertaking further research and will be working with stakeholders to develop a regulatory strategy that promotes better outcomes for older consumers and is seeking comment on the issues raised and scope of the project by 15 April 2016. The strategy will be launched in 2017.

The FCA is tweeting highlights from the Discussion Paper via @TheFCA #ageingpopulation

Notes for editors

  1. DP16/1: Ageing population and financial services
  2. Video of the FCA’s Linda Woodall, Legal and General’s Nigel Wilson, and Age UK’s Jane Vass, is available to download and use.
  3. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  4. Find out more information about the FCA.