Many questions remain unanswered – and unconsidered – on access to financial services, finds report published by watchdog

Hayley Kirton
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A more joined-up approach is needed to improve access to the market (Source: Getty)

The financial industry is not asking the right questions to address problems with access to services, a report published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today argues.

The study cautions that those organisations which could help to improve the financial services marketplace need to be more strategic in their approach and urges stakeholders, including the government, regulators and firms, to look at how access could be improved from a consumer's point of view.

The report highlighted a variety of problems that consumers face, from having requirements that do not fit many standard products to not having internet access to use online services, and therefore advised against a one-size-fits-all approach to improve access to the market.

If a more strategic approach is not taken, the researchers warned that those consumers who are currently struggling to find and use suitable financial services products will continue to be blocked from the market.

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Commenting on the paper, James Bridge, assistant director of conduct regulation at the Association of British Insurers, said:

The paper raises some important questions on how financial services products can be made as widely available as possible. Insurers have made significant steps to make insurance more accessible, including funding Flood Re, embracing digital technologies, and publishing data to help customer understanding.

The UK is one of the world’s most competitive retail insurance markets, underpinned by effective risk-based pricing, which supports a thriving specialist market to meet society’s needs.

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The FCA paper highlighted Flood Re as one way that access to the financial services market was being improved, as it reduced the cost of services for those who would have otherwise been priced out.

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