This paper aims to stimulate ideas and foster a culture of access and inclusion throughout retail financial services, that embraces firms, regulators, government and consumer organisations.
Increasingly, UK individuals and households are expected to take responsibility for their own financial well-being. Yet they can only do this if they have access to financial services that meet their changing needs throughout their lifetime. There is also growing understanding that consumers’ ability to access these services helps to improve market integrity, drive competition and promote financial stability and economic growth.
However, potentially millions of UK consumers cannot use the services that would help them meet their needs and play their wider role in financial markets and the economy.
Occasional Paper No. 8: Consumer Vulnerability analysed the experience of vulnerable consumers in financial markets. Access was one of the problems identified. But access does not just affect the vulnerable - it affects consumers across the spectrum. This situation is not static and new access issues emerge, often unexpectedly, because of social and technological change.
This Occasional Paper aims to stimulate ideas and foster a culture of access and inclusion throughout retail financial services, that embraces firms, regulators, government and consumer organisations. Importantly, this paper was commissioned to prompt debate culminating in a range of questions for the FCA to consider. The findings are not solely for the FCA to take forward, and there may be responsibility for others in the regulatory family, government, firms and consumer groups.
Sharon Collard, Martin Coppack, Jonquil Lowe and Simon Sarkar.
Sharon Collard is Professor of Personal Finance Capability at The Open University and Jonquil Lowe is a Lecturer in Personal Finance at The Open University. Martin Coppack and Simon Sarkar both work in the Consumer Insight Department at the FCA.
Occasional Papers contribute to the work of the FCA by providing rigorous research results and stimulating debate. While they may not necessarily represent the position of the FCA, they are one source of evidence that the FCA may use while discharging its functions and to inform its views. The FCA endeavours to ensure that research outputs are correct, through checks including independent referee reports, but the nature of such research and choice of research methods is a matter for the authors using their expert judgement. To the extent that Occasional Papers contain any errors or omissions, including as to the content or effect of legislation, they should be attributed to the individual authors, rather than to the FCA.
We welcome feedback on this paper, via contact with the authors. Please contact Martin Coppack.