Consumer Advisory Group
On 2 February 2011, the Central Bank appointed five members to its Consumer Advisory Group. The role of the Consumer Advisory Group is to advise the Central Bank on its performance in relation to protecting consumers of financial services.
Appointments to the Consumer Advisory Group are for a three-year period and members serve on a voluntary basis.
The members of the Consumer Advisory Group are:
Michael Culloty holds a senior position in the Money Advice & Budgetary Service (MABS) as National Social Policy and Communications Officer and is also the media spokesperson for MABS. He has wide experience and knowledge on consumer’s interactions with lenders.
Dermott Jewell is CEO of the Consumers Association of Ireland. He is Chairperson of the Financial Services Ombudsman Council and Chairperson/Director of the Irish European Consumer Centre (ECC).
Elaine Kempson is currently an independent consultant based in the UK. She is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Bristol where she was formerly Director of Personal Finance Research Centre. She has almost 30 years of experience in research in consumer behaviour and has worked on a number of studies for regulatory and international bodies, including World Bank, OECD and the UK Financial Services Authority. She is also a non-executive director of the UK Financial Ombudsman Service.
Bill Knight is currently an independent consultant based in Canada. He was formerly the Commissioner of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. He established and is currently the Chair of the International Forum for Consumer Regulators. He also has extensive experience in the credit union sector in Canada.
Dr Anthony Walsh
Until his retirement in 2011, Professor Anthony Walsh was Chief Executive of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland. Previously he spent 20 years at Dublin City University (DCU), where he was Professor of Accounting and Dean of the Business School. He is chairman of the board of Invent DCU, the University’s innovation, commercialisation and enterprise development company.
Summary of the meetings to date
The Consumer Directorate presented on the outcome of the Sectoral Risk assessment process which was undertaken to identify key priorities and strategic goals to be included in the 2014 work programme and members gave their feedback.
A discussion took place on how the Directorate could address cultural issues in the financial services industry as it contributes to the overall environment, attitude, values and behaviours of an organisation.
The issue of debt management regulation was discussed, focusing on the consultation paper issued earlier in 2013, and feedback received, along with an update on the development of a code of conduct for the debt management sector. Members were also asked for their opinion on the minimum competency requirements which should apply to persons wishing to be authorised within this sector.
A presentation by the National Consumer Agency on their role and functions, particularly in relation to the provision of information to consumers was held as this is a key concern of the group. This item will be elaborated upon in future meetings.
The members of the Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) were asked to consider what the strategic priorities of the Consumer Directorate should be for the year ahead. Each of the Directorate’s teams presented to the group on the challenges and risks identified for their sectors and the culmination of this work will assist in identifying high level priorities and activities for 2014.
A mid-project update on the Payment Protection Insurance Review was provided to the members, details of which have been published on the Central Bank website. This review is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.
Finally, members received an update on the revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears and associated media, public and parliamentary queries received. The group was also briefed on the supervisory programme to monitor the implementation of the revised CCMA by mortgage lenders to ensure full implementation by 31 December 2013.
A project update on the “Sales Incentives in the Banking, Insurance, Investment and Stockbroking Companies” themed inspection was delivered to the Group. A representative from Banking Supervision informed the Consumer Advisory Group of the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets and the Central Bank’s framework for a pilot approach to the co-ordinated resolution of multiple debts owed by a distressed borrower. Following the closure of the consultation process on the review of the CCMA the Consumer Advisory Group was advised on the main areas of concern identified, and given an outline of next steps in the process.
Rules of the Consumer Protection Code for industry was discussed.
An independent review of activities of the Consumer Advisory Group was held and the final report delivered to the Director of Consumer Protection.
An outline of the proposed consumer protection themed reviews and inspections scheduled for 2013 was presented to the group, including information on the outcome of recent CCMA Themed inspection, around the compliance of some non-banks to the contacts and appeals requirements of the CCMA. The review of the CCMA and draft consultation paper which set out a number of strategic issues arising from the pre-consultation with stakeholders was discussed.
Market Intelligence and Research projects scheduled for 2013 were outlined for the group.
Presentations were made to the Consumer Advisory Group on how the Consumer Directorate was developing the Risk Outlooks for the various industry sectors from a consumer protection perspective. Each of the Industry Sectors which the Directorate regulates from a conduct of business viewpoint was considered and the key areas in each sector which the Directorate will focus on and priorities and themes for consumer protection work in 2013 were presented for discussion.
A discussion also took place around the pending Review of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA).
The members of the Consumer Advisory Group were given an update on a technical issue which arose in the banking sector and the establishment of the Central Bank incident group to respond to the problem. A discussion took place on Client Asset Requirements, focusing on the review currently taking place and the Bank’s participation in the Joint Industry Working Group. A brief presentation was given on the proposed introduction of Personal Insolvency Legislation to assess the group’s views to regulation of Personal Insolvency Practitioners. The remainder of the meeting focussed on consideration of the Central Bank of Ireland draft strategy for 2013-2015.
During the February meeting of the Consumer Advisory Group, updates on the issue of Basic Bank Accounts and the Review of Debt Management Companies were given to Members. The Consumer Protection Directorate gave a presentation on the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Scheme. Papers were presented on the roll-out to industry bodies of the 2012 Consumer Protection Code and the issue of how industry should deal with unsolicited contacts with consumers. A short discussion took place on the proposed commissioning of research into remuneration structures to inform opinion of how this area should be regulated. The members were also invited to give their opinions on the factors that influence consumers to switch current accounts. Finally the members received a presentation of the EU Regulatory Framework under which the Central Bank operates.
Topics discussed were the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Strategy, Bankruptcy Legislation and Resolution and the Roll-out Process and Implementation Programme for the Consumer Protection Code.
Participants joined in a workshop to develop the Consumer Protection Directorate Strategy for 2012 - 2014.
Topics discussed were on the Review of the Consumer Protection Code, Review of the SME Code, Mortgage Arrears, Market Intelligence and the long term strategy for the Consumer Protection Directorate.
Topics discussed were the Review of the Consumer Protection Code, Review of the Operation of Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act, Tracker Mortgages and restrictions on the operation of bank accounts.
Topics discussed were the Review of the Consumer Protection Code and the Review of the Operation of Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Financial Services Consultative Panels
The Central Bank Reform Act 2010 replaced the Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel and the Financial Services Consultative Industry Panel with the new advisory arrangements set out above. You can still access information in relation to the Consultative Panels and view their work, which has now been archived, here.