On 15 January 2019, the House of Commons’ Treasury Select Committee (the Committee) published written evidence submitted by the FCA as part of the Committee’s inquiry into consumer access to financial services (the Submission). The Submission outlines the FCA’s work and approach to issues of financial access for consumers, focusing on vulnerable people. Key points raised by the FCA in the Submission, regarding its engagement on consumer access issues, include:
- the FCA objectives are to secure appropriate protection for consumers, protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system, and to promote effective competition in consumers’ interests. The FCA also have obligations to consider consumers’ different financial needs;
- the FCA’s Mission states its intention to prioritise consumers who are unable to shop around, over consumers who can shop around but choose not to do so;
- since publishing their Occasional Papers on Consumer Vulnerability in 2015 and Access to Financial Services in 2016, the FCA have used their influence as a regulator to challenge the industry on its treatment of vulnerable consumers and stimulate debate on wider access issues; and
- the FCA serves the public interest as a regulator. Where an issue falls outside their remit into an issue of wider public policy, e.g. whether to provide a universal service or to subsidise risk, the FCA notes it is more suited to Government as it falls under social policy.