06 December 2011
Kay Blair, Vice Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel and of the EIOPA Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group, has stressed the need for co-ordinated action from European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) to enhance consumer protection. She believes EIOPA has a key role in terms of sharing good practice and promoting transparency, simplicity and fairness.
Speaking at EIOPA's inaugural consumer day conference in Frankfurt, Kay Blair set out the widespread need for improved financial education, increased financial capability, better generic advice and access to simpler products that meet customer needs.
Kay Blair commented:
"Regulators collectively need to identify and understand where, why and how consumer detriment arises. The ESAs have a good opportunity to promote a cultural change in the industry in Europe, to help ensure that financial products and services meet key needs, provide value for money and treat customers fairly.
Consumers need to have more confidence and trust in the financial services industry. It is important that consumers develop good money habits so that they can manage their money on a day to day basis and enhance their lives. A focus on targeted financial education and, over the longer term, improved financial capability would help give consumers the tools they need to make more informed choices about their financial well being. But this is a long haul as currently financial literacy skills are not high and consumers do not always make rational decisions. In the meantime, consumers in their respective national markets would also benefit from access to appropriate generic financial advice and simpler products. More choice and rampant innovation are not always good for consumers. A set of reliable and trusted products, for instance around saving, protection and retirement, could make a real difference."
Notes to editors
- The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) is one of three European Supervisory Groups. The other two deal with banking and securities and markets.
- Kay Blair is Vice Chair of the EIOPA Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group. This is one of two stakeholder groups that work to facilitate EIOPA's consultation with stakeholders in Europe on issues such as regulation and implementing technical standards. The stakeholder groups each include 30 members, selected from applications from high level experts after a public recruitment process. The composition of the two stakeholder groups is based on legal requirements as defined in EIOPA's regulation and members were selected for outstanding professional expertise, as well as appropriate geographical and gender balance to achieve the best available representation of stakeholders. The Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group currently consists of ten industry representatives, five consumer representatives, eight users of insurance and reinsurance services, two representatives of trade unions and five independent academics.
- 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.