FSA Consumer Panel: Its view and mine.

Having blogged on what happened when I went to meet the FSA consumer panel (see FSA consumer panel blog), I thought you may find it interesting (if you’re a little bit sad over these things like I am) to contrast the official minutes of the meeting with my recollections after leaving.

Obviously, as official records, theirs are a little bit more dry; yet thankfully there’s no conflict, just a very different way of saying it.

Thanks to the panel for its permission to reproduce these….

4 March 2009 Extract from Consumer Panel meeting

Mr Lewis joined the meeting and the Panel noted the following key points:

  • how best to help those in greatest need of financial justice, for example, people with mental health problems and the elderly, who often do not have access to the internet;
  • the success of Money Savings Expert was its mass market appeal;
  • offered the Consumer Panel the use of the Money Savings Expert web forum;
  • the potential problem areas in the next year were identified as:
    • mis-selling of equity release;
    • the change in Financial Services Compensation Scheme (‘FSCS’) rules on passporting, for example, this had led to lack of FSCS coverage for savings accounts with ING, Irish banks and the Post Office. This was European Economic Area (‘EEA’) law and therefore could not be changed;
    • the risk of insolvency of insurance companies, particularly those registered outside the UK; and
    • the risk of offsetting to those who held their savings at the same legal entity as their debt.
  • Mr Lewis’ view that financial education on debt and competitive consumer finance should be produced for children just after they had completed their GCSEs;
  • the concerns of the Panel and Mr Lewis that consumers favoured the use of claims handling companies, and that some companies were asking for a significant upfront fees, for example, to handle bank charges cases (in which the probability of recovery was low);
  • the concerns that people were increasingly disenfranchised by the financial sector;
  • despite the UK’s standing as a competitive consumer finance market many people, such as the elderly, felt they had lacked sufficient access to it; and
  • Mr Lewis’ view that TCF was flawed in that it did not ensure financial justice, for example, where the products themselves were not fair. An example of this was consumers being sold loans with excessive Annual Percentage Rates (‘APR’).”

Mr Lewis left the meeting.

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