Review into change and innovation in the unsecured credit market (the Woolard Review)

Information about our review of unsecured credit market regulation, chaired by Christopher Woolard CBE.

Read the Woolard Review, published February 2021

In September 2020, the FCA Board asked Christopher Woolard CBE, former Interim Chief Executive to review change and innovation in the unsecured credit market.

The Review concentrated on how regulation can better support a healthy unsecured lending market. It took into account the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) on employment security and credit scores, changes in business models and new developments in unsecured lending, including the growth of unregulated products in retail and the workplace. 

The Review sought the views of participants in this market including consumers, firms and their representatives. They had the opportunity to participate in roundtables and respond to a Call for Input.

Scope of the review

The terms of reference for the review were: 

  • To examine the current state of the unsecured credit market in the UK including the component parts, recent changes in size and scale, whether in regulated or in adjacent unregulated products.
  • To examine changes in regulation, noting those areas that have been subject to regulatory oversight in recent years from a variety of bodies including the FCA (for example overdrafts or high cost credit), and comparing likely harms or dynamic effects seen in those areas.
  • To examine the immediate effect of coronavirus on demand for unsecured credit and on the role of credit information.
  • To report on possible trends and potential future pressures.
  • To identify areas of growth in demand from consumers for credit including from non-traditional providers of credit.
  • To present an assessment of the benefits and harms evident in the market and those that may be expected as the market develops.
  • To compare international approaches to these issues where relevant.
  • To make conclusions and recommendations to the FCA Board on management of harms in this sector; gaps in understanding or data; potential changes in regulation for the FCA to consider; advice on potential changes to the overall system the FCA may wish to consider with other authorities or the Government; and possible innovations to support a sustainable market.

Advisory panel

The work of the Review was supported by an advisory panel. This group of individuals brought a variety of perspectives from firms and consumers to help shape the review.

The following individuals were members of the advisory panel:

Member Profile
Phil Andrew CEO, StepChange
Steven Cooper

CEO, C Hoare and Co
Chair, Experian Limited
Interim Chair, Social Mobility Commission

Natasha de Teran

FCA Consumer Panel
Non-Resident Scholar, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace (FinCyber Programme)

Kirsty Good Head of Campaigns, PR and Social,
Malcolm Le May CEO, Provident Financial Group Plc
Vim Maru FCA Practitioner Panel
CEO Retail Bank, Lloyds Banking Group
Rebecca Pearson Operations Director, Bupa Care Services
Marlene Shiels     FCA Smaller Business Practitioner Panel
CEO, Capital Credit Union
Caroline Siarkiewicz     CEO, The Money and Pensions Service
Helen Undy     Chief Executive, Money and Mental Health Institute
Kirsty Ward     Director, M&S Bank and Services
Therese Chambers

FCA Director, Retail and Regulatory Investigations
Leading FCA’s consumer credit priority


The Review held 3 roundtables to help gather evidence. Notes of the topics discussed at these roundtables, below.

Page updates

: Editorial amendment page updated as part of website refresh
: Link changed Moved to Transparency section.
: Publication added Woolard Review published and page updates
: Information added advisory panel members' details
: Information added Members of advisory panel; roundtable dates