Memorandum submitted by the Financial
Services Consumer Panel
The Financial Services Consumer Panel (the Panel)
was established by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in December
1998 to represent the interests of consumers in advising the FSA
on its evolving policy and monitoring its effectiveness. Subsequently,
the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (the Act) made it
a statutory requirement for the FSA to establish and maintain
a Consumer Panel. The relevant sections of the Act came into force
on 18 June 2001.
The main purpose of the Panel is to provide
advice to the FSA. As such, it does not carry out responsibilities
on behalf of the FSA. For example, it does not undertake consumer
education; nor does it take up individual consumer complaints.
The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated
by the FSA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers
of activities outside but related to the FSA's remit. The Panel
has regard to the interests of all groups of consumers, including
those who are particularly disadvantaged in the context of financial
The Panel's principle functions are:
(a) To represent the interests of consumers
by advising, commenting and making recommendations on existing
and developing FSA policy and practices as appropriate;
(b) To speak on behalf of consumers by reviewing,
monitoring and reporting to the FSA on the effectiveness of FSA's
policies and practices in pursuing its duties;
(c) To keep under review and influence actual
and potential developments in financial services to enable it
to fulfil (a) and (b) effectively.
In addition, the Panel can advise the Government
on the scope of financial services regulation; and consider other
matters that assist it in carrying out its primary functions.
Section11 of the Act brought an important part
of the formal accountability of the FSA to the Consumer Panel
into effect. This section, which came into force on 18 June 2001,
states that if the FSA disagrees with a representation made by
the Panel, it must give the Panel a statement in writing of its
reasons for disagreeing. The same also applies to the FSA's relationship
with the Practitioner Panel. No formal representations under the
Act have been made since the provision came into effect.
The full Panel meets about 10 times per year.
In addition, smaller "working groups" meet monthly to
discuss specific issues in more detail and to consider the Panel's
formal responses to FSA and other consultations. FSA staff are
invited to these meetings to discuss FSA policy proposals. From
time to time, the Panel also commissions research to obtain a
better understanding of consumers' views and to identify areas
of concern. An information note on the work of the Panel is prepared
monthly for the FSA Board.
The FSA's Board agrees a budget for Consumer
Panel members' fees, expenses and any work commissioned by the
Panel. The FSA also provides the Panel with a dedicated Secretariat
of four staff to support its work.
The Panel publishes an annual report on its
activities in which the FSA's effectiveness is assessed. This
year's report will cover the fifteen months to end March 2002
as the panel moves to align its financial year with that of the
FSA. The Panel also has a website at www.fs-cp.org.uk which contains
information about the Panel's work and its members. The Panel
publishes its formal responses to FSA and other consultation documents
on its website; details of its consumer research are also available
there. The website contains a facility to enable consumers to
contact the Panel's Secretariat, but makes it clear that the Panel
is not in a position to pursue individual or specific complaints
from the public about financial services.
Panel members are appointed by the FSA Board
following an open recruitment process based on the Nolan principles;
the appointment of the Chairman must have the formal approval
of the Treasury. Colin Brown became Chairman of the Consumer Panel
with effect from 1 January 2001, having been Vice Chairman since
its inception in December 1998.
Members of the Panel have a wide range of relevant
experience such as financial services regulation, working with
vulnerable consumers, local authority enforcement, consumer protection,
consumer education, front-line money advice, legal expertise,
competition policy, public policy analysis, market research and
the media. Biographies of the thirteen current Panel Members are
Colin Brown (Chairman)
Colin is a consultant specialising in consumer
affairs, working with consumer organisations throughout the EU
and in Central and Eastern Europe. Previously Deputy Director
of Research at the Consumers' Association and Senior Fellow at
the Policy Studies Institute, he has over 25 years' experience
of research and development in social and consumer policy.
Ann Foster (Vice-Chairman)
Ann formerly Director of the Scottish Consumer
Council and has over 20 years' experience in the consumer movement.
She is also a member of the Health Professionals Council and a
member of Postwatch, the Consumer Council for Postal Services.
She is also a consumer consultant to Oftel.
Jean chaired OFTEL's Advisory Committee on Telecommunications
for Disabled and Elderly People until 31 December 1999 and is
currently Acting Chair of Harrow & Hillingdon Healthcare NHS
Trust. She has extensive experience of working on behalf of vulnerable
consumers. Previous positions include; the Executive Director
of the National Council for Hospice and Palliative Care Services
and Chief Executive of Arthritis Care.
Yvonne is Chief Executive of Money Advice Scotland,
set up in 1989 by the Scottish Consumer Council. She has over
13 years' experience of consumer credit/money advice issues and
of working with vulnerable consumers in a variety of roles, including
debt counsellor, trainer and manager. She has also lectured and
co-authored a Guide to Money Advice in Scotland. Yvonne is presently
a member of the FSA Consumer Education Forum and Credit union
Consultation Panel. Yvonne is a member of the Scottish Consumer
Harriet is a solicitor with considerable experience
of consumer policy and retail financial services. She is a former
legal officer with the National Consumer Council, where she worked
on the needs of low income consumers, banking, credit, mortgages,
regulation of equity release and long-term care insurance, the
Financial services and Market Bill and the proposed EU directive
on distance selling of financial services.
Dianne is on the Board of both the National
Consumer Council and of the newly established National Patient
Safety Agency. She was formerly the Chief Executive of the Pelican
Centre (a cancer charity) and prior to that had periods as the
former Director of Corporate Affairs of the Wellcome Trust, Chief
Executive of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Director
of Alcohol Concern, General Secretary of the Fabian Society, a
journalist and trade union research officer. She is currently
also a research student at Queen Mary College, London.
John is a solicitor with extensive experience
of consumer issues as a former presenter of the daily consumer
programme on Radio 4 "You and Yours". He is currently
a freelance broadcaster and his work includes presenting personal
finance television programmes. He is a member of the Mortgage
Code Compliance Board.
Vinod is a social scientist with market research
skills and extensive voluntary and public sector experience of
policy analysis and research. Until recently, he was Head of Policy
and Research at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People,
and he has previously worked for the Commission for Racial Equality.
Now retired, Vinod is currently a Non-Executive Director of the
Barnet Primary Care Trust, and a member of the Consumer Liaison
Group of the Medical Research Council.
Nick is the National Money Advice Co-ordinator
for the Federation of Information and Advice Centres. A career
spent in advice organisations including the National Association
of Citizens' Advice Bureaux where he was manager of the Money
Advice Support Unit, he has particular experience of credit, debt
and personal finance issues and of working with vulnerable consumers.
Paul is a former senior civil servant with experience
of regulatory work, employment law, competition, consumer protection,
telecommunications, financial services and company law. He was
previously Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Director at
the Department of Trade and Industry.
Richard is Provost of Worcester College, Oxford
University; previously a non-executive Director of IMRO, he chaired
their Training Standards Panel. He has served as an economic adviser
in Whitehall, and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, where
he was Deputy Chairman. Richard lectures widely on financial and
economic topics to businessmen and adult education groups. He
is President of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education.
Dave is a partner in a media business which
is involved in publishing, editing and journalism personal finance
plays a large part in this. He is a former editor of "Which?"
and "Money Which?" and former Assistant Director of
Consumers' Association. He was also a policyholder representative
on the Insurance Brokers Registration Council for nine years.