Consumer Advisory Group
The role of the Consumer Advisory Group ('CAG') is to advise the Central Bank on the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers in relation to consumers of financial services including:
The main functions of the Consumer Advisory Group are:
- the effects of the Central Bank's Strategic Plans on consumers of financial services;
- initiatives aimed at further enhancing the protection of consumers of financial services; and
- if the Central Bank so requests, documents, consultation papers or other materials prepared by the Central Bank
The members of the Consumer Advisory Group are:
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.
Anthony Walsh was Chief Executive of the Institute of Bankers in Ireland. Previously he spent nearly 20 years at Dublin City University (DCU), where he was Professor of Accounting and Dean of the Business School. He is a member of the Qualified Financial Advisor Board and a Director of the Irish Universities’ Quality Board.
Niamh Moloney is a Professor of Financial Markets Law in the London School of Economics and Political Science, she has also served as a member of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s advisory Financial Services Consumer Panel and has acted as an Expert Witness to UK Parliament Select Committee Inquiries on financial market matters.
JB McCarthy is the Development Director of the Financial Services Innovation Centre in University College Cork which provides research, development and innovation (RDI) capabilities to domestic and international companies. JB has participated in research on international financial services innovations and development of financial services IT projects.
John Mark McCafferty
John Mark is the Head of Social Justice and Policy in the St. Vincent de Paul, where he leads on all Policy and Advocacy work. He manages key external relationships with Government, Regulators, Companies and the wider Voluntary sector. He also represents St. Vincent de Paul during the Social Partnership Programmes.
Summary of Meetings to date
Following a general discussion on topical issues, an overview of the Retail Intermediary sector was presented to members which generated a discussion on key consumer risks. The proposal to respond to the EU Green paper on Financial Services was discussed as well as the risks and benefits arising from current commission arrangements in place between product producers and intermediaries across the insurance, banking and investment sectors. The Group was presented with CPD's approach to influencing a consumer focused culture in the provision of financial services as a key strategic priority over the next three years. Members were also given an overview of how market intelligence, including data on consumer complaints, is used to support a risk and evidence-based approach to our work.
Following a presentation on the outputs from internal consumer risk assessments, the focus of this meeting was in seeking input from members on strategic priorities for the Consumer Protection Directorate for 2016 and beyond in order to inform our annual work planning and the preparation of the 2016 Consumer Protection Outlook Report.
Views of the Group were sought in relation to the on-going review of the Code of Conduct for Business Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises, particularly the responses received to the public consultation on this project. Members were updated on the proposed public consultation on enhanced transparency measures for consumers with variable rate mortgages and on progress in work related to the transposition of the EU Payments Account Directive, particularly on Member State discretions. A general discussion took place on work underway in the area of health insurance.
Following a general discussion on topical issues, an overview of the Life and Non-Life insurance markets from both a prudential and conduct of business perspective was presented to members which generated a discussion on key risks and issues. The implementation of the European Supervisory Authority product oversight and governance guidelines and technical standards was discussed, focusing on some of the key principles. An update on the research into Hire Purchase and Personal Contract Plans was presented at the meeting. The findings from the recent review of Debt Management firms compliance to date with Central Bank requirements was delivered and next steps for this industry sector were outlined.
The Registrar of Credit Unions delivered a presentation outlining the Irish Credit Union sector and its key priorities and challenges including regulatory developments which their division are currently focusing on. Members also received a copy of the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets report on the outcome of the peer review of the Consumer Protection function of the Central Bank of Ireland. A discussion took place on how the Bank is approaching the regulation of a changing payments sector including innovation and emerging changes in payments products, services and providers.
An overview of the Consumer Protection Outlook Report – which outlined the range of consumer protection issues and risks which the Directorate will focus on during 2015, was presented. As part of the ongoing discussions around the 5 ‘C’s framework within which the Directorate operates, a discussion took place on Compliance and how the Directorate utilises industry Board meetings, speaking engagements, seminars and Roadshows to promote compliance in industry. Members were asked to comment two EU consultation papers on product oversight and governance, to assist the Central Bank’s input into the drafting of guidelines. A brief update on the transposition of the Mortgage Credit Directive and the consultation paper on Macroprudential measures were also discussed.
A verbal update was given to members of topical issues currently under review by the Consumer Protection Directorate (CPD). Following this, a presentation was delivered on the proposed development of a Consumer Protection model that supports prudential supervision and conduct of business.
An update on the 2014 peer review of the Consumer Directorate by the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets was provided to the group.
The Directorate has commenced the annual sectoral risk assessment process for 2015, and members were invited to submit their views on areas of concern, which could be considered for work plans for the following year.
The Directorates new approach to engaging with EU and International Stakeholders was outlined, and members input requested on how the Directorate should measure positive outcomes from participation at an EU level.
Colleagues from the Financial Stability Division participated in a Q&A session on the June SME Market report. Member's views were sought on related CPD projects including the SME Code Review and on-site SME themed review.
A verbal update was given to members of topical issues currently under review by the Consumer Directorate. Members then discussed how the Consumer Directorate promotes a challenging and outcome focused approach to its work, the work of those we regulate, and the Irish market place.
A discussion took place on Virtual Currencies and whether they should be regulated, including an update on developments in relation to this in the European context. Members also discussed the issue of Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending both in an Irish and International environment. The Bank proposes to issue a warning notice to consumers and industry in June 2014 on this topic.
The team involved in the development of a central credit register discussed the progress towards implementation of the register which will have data available from several key financial sectors. The register is intended to promote responsible lending and help drive better lending decisions.
An update was given to members on the proposed Debt Management code including the proposal to issue a second consultation document in June.
A verbal update was given to members of topical issues the Consumer Directorate have been dealing with in recent months, including the restructuring of the banking system and sale of loans to unregulated entities. A discussion took place on how regulators, industry and consumers need to come together to try and rebuild and maintain consumer confidence in the financial services industry.
The Registrar of Credit Unions gave a presentation on the sector in Ireland outlining the context and challenges including the establishment of a Commission on Credit Unions. Following this a discussion took place on the Health Insurance sector, around the proliferation of products and the impact of increased premiums on consumers.
Members were informed of new powers available to the Central Bank to establish a customer redress scheme for problems which are widespread or regular in the financial services sector, these include the Bank having the power to direct a regulated financial service provider to make appropriate redress to customers.
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.