The European Commission has published a speech given by Meglena Kuneva (European Consumer Commissioner) which is entitled Key issues for financial services industry in today's context.

In her speech Mrs Kuneva discusses the consumer reality of the retail financial services industry. She begins by stating that the consumer is not adequately served in his needs for financial services. One reason for this is that consumers face obstacles in obtaining and understanding the information provided by the financial services industry.

Mrs Kuneva states that following a recent initiative the Commission has found that 34% and 40% of consumers find it difficult to compare financial offers such as offers for current accounts, mortgages or investment services. Incomprehensible information and insufficient information are among the most important perceived obstacles to cross border shopping for retail financial services.

Mrs Kuneva then states that to help consumers the Commission must:

  • Improve financial education.
  • Improve pre-contractual information.
  • Address a general lack of transparency.

When discussing improvements to pre-contractual information Mrs Kuneva mentions that a standard form, the European Standard Information Sheet (ESIS), will be available for consumers when they inquire about consumer credits once the Consumer Credit Directive is implemented in May 2010.

When discussing transparency and choice Mrs Kuneva looks at the Commission's Consumer Market Scoreboard which is being used to analyse the retail financial services sector, beginning with a review of bank fees. The Commission has so far found that 69% of websites were unclear and further clarifying contact with the banks concerned was needed.

View Key issues for financial services industry in today's context, 11 September 2008