12 June 2012
Speaking at today's ABI Savings Conference in London, EU consumer champion Kay Blair, has called for the EU to have an explicit savings agenda and to increase its focus on consumer protection. Kay Blair is Consumer Panel Vice Chair and Vice Chair of the Insurance and Reinsurance Stakeholder Group of EIOPA, the EU insurance supervisor.
Kay Blair, Consumer Panel Vice Chair commented:
"Today's focus on savings is very welcome, particularly given the economic challenges all consumers in the EU face. There is a desperate need to engage consumers and convince them of the long-term benefits of saving and providing adequately for retirement.
One could argue that much of EU policy to date, particularly on the investment side, has been directed to the supply side. In many respects, the firm, and not the saver, has been the beneficiary of the internal market. The old adage that products are sold, not bought, continues to hold. That has to change. The new European Supervisory Authorities have an excellent opportunity to rebalance the agenda, given their remit around consumer protection. But they need to have the appetite, the tools and the resources to deliver tangible consumer benefits and to challenge the industry effectively.
Consumers need straightforward products that do what they say on the tin - and there is a particular need for dependable later life products, given growing scepticism over pensions. Advisers need to give relevant and unbiased advice: the Consumer Panel is hopeful that the MiFID requirement on firms to act "honestly, fairly and professionally" will be the cornerstone of this. However, there also needs to be effective enforcement and redress when things go wrong so that consumers can trade cross border with confidence. And moves toward maximum harmonisation must not erode existing rights UK consumers enjoy.
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.
- Photographs and biographical details for Kay Blair
- Panel members are appointed to serve a maximum of two terms of three years.