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‘Judge Esas on improvements for the public’

Financial Services Consumer Panel vice chair Kay Blair says the European supervisory authorities must be judged on how their work improves financial services for consumers.

Blair is vice-chair of the stakeholder group of the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, one of the three Esas.

Speaking at Eiopa’s annual conference in Frankfurt last week, she said the Esas must work together to improve financial literacy, tackle inappropriate selling, remuneration and poor complaints handling and ensure information given to consumers is meaningful.

Her comments come after complaints from consumer groups to the European Ombudsman over a lack of consumer representation on Eiopa and the European Banking Authority’s stakeholder groups.

Blair said: “Much of the work of Eiopa is very technical in nature, yet the impact on consumers could be huge. For example, profitability pressures in the insurance sector mean insurers could face incentives to find alternative means of raising revenues and cutting costs, which could lead to consumer detriment.

“Consumers across Europe share the need for decent products that provide value for money, transparency of meaningful information and simplicity and fairness in their dealings with financial service providers. The Esas need to recognise this and supervise effectively.”

Blair said only strong supervision and effective regulation can ensure consumers are adequately protected.

In July, Cicero Consulting head of Brussels office Helena Walsh said it was “questionable” that IFAs were not represented on the European Securities and Markets Authority’s stakeholder group.

Aifa policy director Andrew Strange said it showed the “Herculean task” advisers face to not become collateral damage of European regulation.

In September, consumers’ organisation the European Federation of Investors and Euro Investors filed a complaint with the European Banking Authority and Eiopa over a lack of consumer representation on their stakeholder groups.

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