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Consumer Protection in Ireland Presenter: Bernard Sheridan Financial Regulator.

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Presentation on theme: "Consumer Protection in Ireland Presenter: Bernard Sheridan Financial Regulator."— Presentation transcript:

1 Consumer Protection in Ireland Presenter: Bernard Sheridan Financial Regulator

2 History of Financial Regulator Prior to Financial Regulator Numerous different regulators Government decision Central Bank & Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 Established single regulator for all financial services Introduced specific consumer protection mandate Two independent components of CBFSAI Financial Regulator Central Bank

3 Financial Regulator Financial Stability Safety & Solvency Consumer Issues Consumer protection, prudential supervision and financial stability all interlinked Cohesive Approach

4 Key stakeholders- Consumer Panel Industry Panel FSO Department of Finance Compensation Schemes

5 Who we regulate- Credit institutions (banks & building societies) including monitoring of customer charges; Insurance companies Investment firms Collective invest schemes the Irish Stock Exchange & stockbrokers Insurance, reinsurance, investment and mortgage intermediaries Credit Unions Others

6 Credit Institutions79 Life & Non-Life Insurances Companies187 Reinsurance Companies168 Intermediaries5,127 Credit Unions428 Money Lenders48 Number of Financial Service Providers at end of 2006

7 Consumer Information/ Education Competition Statutory Code Fulfilling our Role

8 What information is available? Printed consumer literature Cost surveys Consumer area on the website Dedicated staff to assist consumers In addition: Advertising: consumer awareness PR and Press Office activities Nationwide distribution  Schools  Local events

9 Growth in demand for information Consumer demand for publications in 2006 represented an in crease of 152% on 2004 Unique visitors to the website have increased by 135% from 2004 to 2006 Web downloads in 2006 had increased by almost 223% on 2004

10 Statutory Code Fulfil our consumer protection role by  Developing codes of practice covering provision of information, sales process and compliants handling  Enforcing these codes to ensure compliance; and  Setting standards relating to the competencies and skills that sales staff require when dealing with customers

11 Structure of Code Principles based General Principles Common Rules Provisions specific to service offered not classification of firm Advertising

12 General Principles Apply to provision of products/services to all customers Act honestly, fairly and professionally in the best interests of customers and integrity of the market Must not mislead a customer Have adequate resources for compliance Make full disclosure of relevant information in a way that seeks to inform Correct errors and handle complaints speedily and fairly Must not prevent access to basic financial services

13 Common Rules Knowing the Consumer  Proportionality - obligation to gather and record sufficient information to provide a suitable product or service Suitability/Reason Why  All products recommended, including a range, to be suitable based on KYC Unsolicited Contact  Restriction applies to personal visits & phone calls Complaints handling  Framework for developing procedures for dealing with complaints  Response times

14 Advertising Rules Advertising must be fair & not misleading Advertisements for mortgages, loans, investments & deposits must include warning notices such as: ‘This new loan may take longer to pay off than your previous loans. This means that you may pay more than if you pay over a shorter term.’ These warnings must be prominent, i.e. in a box, in bold type and a font that is larger than the normal size. The design and presentation of an advertisement must allow it to be easily understood.

15 Monitoring Compliance Regular inspections of firms based on  Complaints  Routine/geographical  Poor supervision record Use of themed inspections  Credit cards  PRSAs  PPI Sanctions powers  Administrative Sanctions Procedure  Range from disciplinary measure to fines

16 Minimum Competency Requirements In effect since 1 January 2007 A basic competency framework designed to establish minimum standards for financial services providers Applies to firms that  provide advice on or  sell retail financial products or  undertake specified activities, i.e., claims administration, reinsurance mediation, management of accredited individuals, adjudicating on complaints

17 Retail financial product classifications Life Assurance Protection Policies General Insurance Policies Shares and Bonds and other Investment Instruments Savings, Investments and Pensions Housing Loans  Including associated insurances Consumer Credit Agreements  Agreements subject to Consumer Credit Act  Including associated insurances

18 What’s Next Consumer Awareness campaign late 2007 Ongoing monitoring of effectiveness of Code provisions Full Review after 2 years - 2009

19 Promoting choice & competition - Cost surveys Objectives  Show range of prices and characterisitcs  Encourage shopping around  Provide user-friendly information  Promote competition Range includes  Motor insurance – every three months  Personal current account charges – six months  Credit cards – six months  Home & contents insurance – six months  Personal Loans – six months  Life insurance – six months

20 Latest Cost Survey

21 Media Coverage

22 Number of switches upto end of April '07: Personal switches since Jan '05- 35,529 ; Business switches since July '06- 649 Voluntary Switching Code – Current Accounts Acknowledge role for certain voluntary codes Switching not included in Code Financial Regulator observer role in development Allow customers to switch more easily Financial Regulator will monitor effectiveness

23 Thank you

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