28th June 2010
The Consumer Panel has today published new research(1) which reveals a perceived decline in fairness in financial services. Financial services compared poorly to the retail sector, with consumers considering financial services as less fair, being insufficiently competitive or accessible.
Particularly unfair were complex products, such as some insurance products, or those with disproportionate charges, such as store cards. Issues highlighted by the research include concern over the loss of the personalised individual service, personified by “old fashioned bank managers”, as well as worries over the treatment of vulnerable customers and the failure to reward loyal customers with products that deliver.
Participants wanted to see financial services customers treated fairly with transparent information, responsible marketing, fair pricing and good ongoing customer care. Sales processes should be low pressure, tailored to individual needs and there should be easy and convenient after sales service. The Consumer Panel will be organising a round table discussion in July to discuss the findings of the research in more detail.
Adam Phillips, Consumer Panel Chair commented:
"Financial services are an essential part of life so it is no wonder that consumers regard treating customers fairly with such importance. It is very worrying that the public still believe they are not getting a fair deal and that there is a perception matters are getting worse. The industry needs to do more to increase transparency, giving customers clear and meaningful information, so that they see an improvement in standards of customer service.
Government must adequately address fairness in financial services as part of its wholesale reorganisation of regulation. The new Consumer Protection and Markets Authority must learn from this research and from the FSA’s successes and failures.
The Consumer Panel has recently set out a ten point plan detailing how we believe financial services could be made better. We hope that our suggestions and the evidence provided by this research will give new impetus to improving outcomes for consumers."
Notes to editors
The FSA research was undertaken by Opinion Leader Research. The full report can be downloaded.
Adam Phillips, Consumer Panel Chair’s biography and photographs.
- 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 Board on the interests and concerns of consumers and reports on the FSA's performance in meeting its objectives.
There are currently eleven members of the Panel as listed below (for further information on individual members, see Who is on the panel)
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. What we're doing for consumers explains more about the work the Panel is doing.