Values and operating principles
The Financial Inclusion Centre is run according to a set of values and guiding operating principles.
Independence: we are an independent, not-for-profit think tank. We are proudly independent and all of our policies and views are arrived at impartially and objectively. Nor do we have any political ties. The only ideology we follow is that consumers’ core financial needs should be met fairly and effectively. But we are neutral as to how these needs are met – whether via market based solutions, through the third sector or by the state.
Integrity and quality: we aim to be a leading provider of quality, accurate, and objective research on the extent of financial exclusion and underprovision in the UK, the impact on consumers, and the root causes of exclusion and underprovision.
Innovation: independent, quality research is critical. However, we recognise that research alone will not combat financial exclusion or ensure that consumers are financially secure and well provided for. We make a point of developing practical policy measures and innovative solutions to make sure consumers core financial needs are met, and increase access to fair and affordable financial products and services.
Collaborative and cooperative: financial exclusion and underprovision is one of the most serious public policy challenges currently facing the UK. Unless government, industry, regulators, consumer advocates and other stakeholders work together to develop innovative solutions, millions will face bleak financial futures. Therefore, we actively set out to work together with all parties with an interest in combating the problem. For example, we work with industry to develop fair and affordable financial services that consumers trust and value, and we aim to create partnerships between the financial services industry and the third sector to meet the needs of excluded consumers.
The consumer principles
We use the established consumer principles when assessing whether consumers’ needs are being met. These principles apply regardless of whether products and services are delivered by the private sector, public sector, or third sector.
The consumer principles are:
Access: consumers should not face unreasonable barriers to access to appropriate, affordable products and services that meet their needs and preferences;
Choice: consumers should have the choice of appropriate products and services that meet their needs and preferences;
Quality: choice can be illusory – too much choice can be as detrimental as restricted choice. What matters is that consumers should have access to good quality, affordable products and services;
Efficiency and value-for-money: consumers should have access to value for money products and services from efficient and competitive markets and providers;
Information and advice: consumers should be provided with the objective information and advice they need to make the right choices;
Regulation and redress: consumers should be able to rely on an effective consumer protection regime that regulates markets effectively and, where markets fail, provides access to redress;
Representation: the consumer interest must be represented in decision making processes regardless of whether products and services are provided by private, public or third sector. This applies as much to policymakers in government and regulators;
Equity and fairness: markets should operate according to the equity principle which means that all consumers should have the right to be treated fairly and not to be discriminated against;
Safety: the products and providers consumers use to meet their financial needs should be secure and soundly managed.