We are an independent think-tank and undertake major research projects with external partner organisations. But we also make a point of working with the financial services industry and other stakeholders with an interest in combating financial exclusion and underprovision to improve the quality of financial products and access to financial services.
These services also provide much needed additional revenue for the Centre allowing it to pursue its aims.
Research, planning and advisory services
With our expertise and experience, we work with social partner organisations in government and the third sector to develop and implement strategies for combating financial exclusion. We provide a range of services including:
- major research projects on financial inclusion issues and consumer behaviour in financial markets;
- helping national, regional and local authorities, and charities develop focused, targeted financial inclusion and capability strategies;
- providing practical help in setting up organisations to combat exclusion such as credit unions, and developing alternative products such as insurance with rent schemes; and
- building capacity in the third-sector to help it play a more effective role in meeting the needs of excluded and marginalised consumers.
Organisations interested in engaging the Centre on strategic development or research projects, please contact Mick McAteer, Director, on firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion and details.
Working with the industry
We campaign against poor practices in the market such as irresponsible lending or unfair product terms and conditions. However, we also take the view that consumer advocates can do as much good by working with the industry to develop consumer-focused products and practices.
To support this aim, we provide independent, objective, and confidential consumer audits to financial services providers that bring a unique consumer perspective covering the following:
- product design – we work with firms to assess products against the recognised consumer principles such as fairness, value for money, quality, and security highlighting where certain terms and conditions may be detrimental to consumers;
- co-production of products and services – the Centre is a strong advocate of the co-production approach. Co-production is a process where deliberate efforts are made to involve the users or intended users of products in the design, planning, and delivery of products. Co-production increases the chances that products are designed to meet the needs of target audiences;
- ‘stress-testing’ – another aspect of co-production is ‘stress testing’ of products and services. Financial firms are well used to financial stress testing of products. However, the Centre’s team with its detailed understanding of consumer behaviour brings a unique consumer perspective and can help firms stress test consumers’ understanding of products and services. This should increase the likelihood that products reach their intended markets and reduce the risk of misselling and inappropriate sales.
- financial advice and sales processes: as well assessing products, we can apply the same model to financial advice and sales processes to ensure that advice meets the needs of target audiences;
- detailed consumer insight programmes – to help firms understand consumers’ needs and preferences;
- identification of regulatory and reputational risks – particularly with respect to Treating Customers Fairly requirements.
If firms are interested in engaging our team, then please contact Mick Mc Ateer, Director, on email@example.com for a confidential discussion and details.
Where possible we believe that good practice should be rewarded to provide strong incentives for consumer-focused providers. Over time, we plan to develop an independent, trusted quality mark to allow consumers to recognise consumer-focused firms. We take our inspiration from organisations such as the Fair Trade Foundation and the Soil Association who have shown how positive campaigns can help markets evolve to meet consumers’ needs and produce market changes.