"Firms are responsible for selling their customers products that meet their needs both now and into the future.” – Derville Rowland, Director General, Financial Conduct

16 March 2021 Press Release

Derville Rowland

  • Central Bank sets out its priorities for consumer and investor protection in 2021.
  • Consultation open on enhancements to the Standard Financial Statement following extensive engagement with borrower representatives.
  • A trustworthy financial system requires a strong culture of compliance, with firms and the people working in those firms acting in the best interests of their customers.

Director General, Financial Conduct, Derville Rowland spoke at an online event today (16 March 2021) for the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland Membership Forum, on the Central Bank’s priorities for consumer and investor protection for 2021. The speech detailed the priorities including:

  • the review of the Consumer Protection Code;
  •  insurance issues focused on differential pricing and business interruption;
  • distressed debt;
  • managing liquidity risk in funds during periods of market volatility;
  • strengthening policy in capital markets union and sustainable finance; and
  • enforcement and anti-money laundering priorities.

Director General Rowland also launched a consultation on the Standard Financial Statement (SFS), as part its wider work to assist borrowers in arrears:

“Distressed debt remains a key priority for the Central Bank, and our focus is to ensure lenders have suitable supports in place to help borrowers in arrears. We are supervising lenders to ensure they have appropriate strategies, the necessary financial and operational resources, and a suite of appropriate and sustainable solutions to resolve distressed debt.

“Central to our approach on distressed debt is working with and listening closely to borrower representatives to ensure that our supervisory and policy responses continue to evolve. From their experience and feedback, it is clear that borrowers sometimes find the Standard Financial Statement (SFS), used to gather financial information from those experiencing financial distress, to be a challenging document to complete. We brought together a working group of stakeholders with experience in assisting borrowers in distress to listen and address these challenges.

“The outcome of this work is that today we will issue a public consultation on changes to the SFS developed on foot of the detailed feedback, input and suggestions from the working group. The proposed enhancements aim to improve borrower understanding and facilitate completion of the SFS, as well as to reduce the information a borrower is required to provide in certain sections, while still ensuring that the SFS continues to fulfil its primary purpose of providing a comprehensive basis for a firm to undertake an assessment of the borrower’s individual circumstances”, she said.

Finally, on enforcement, Ms Rowland said the Central Bank is currently progressing cases against both firms and individuals under the Administrative Sanctions Procedure and the Fitness and Probity regime. Reiterating the message to all regulated firms arising from the recent Davy enforcement outcome, she said:

“Time and time again, I and colleagues in the Central Bank have told senior leaders in firms: consumer and investor protection begins with the firms themselves. Firms are responsible for selling their customers products that meet their needs both now and into the future. Firms must have effective cultures and set the right standards.

"Many firms meet those standards and put their expertise to good use for their customers. But others, of course, don’t.

"And where misconduct arises, the Central Bank will take action with the aim of ensuring that the best interests of consumers and investors are protected and that markets operate in a fair, orderly and transparent manner.”


  • Details of the consultation can be found here
  • To inform the review, the Central Bank convened a stakeholder working group to obtain feedback on the SFS and supports in place for borrowers, and to discuss and agree proposals for enhancements. The stakeholders who participated in the working group were -   
        - Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and Citizen’s Information Board (CIB);
        - Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), including representatives from member firms;
        - Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation (IMHO);
        - Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI); and
        - Mr. Brendan Burgess (askaboutmoney.com).
  • Securities Markets Risk Outlook Report: Conduct Risks in an Uncertain World (2021)