"Symposium on Financial Consumer Protection & Financial Education" Successfully Held
The Financial Ombudsman Institution (FOI) held the "Symposium on Financial Consumer Protection & Financial Education" on the morning of 1 December, attracting more than 150 distinguished participants from the industry, government, and academia. In his speech at the symposium, FOI Chairman Jan-Juy Lin indicated that as new financial services and products have become more and more complex and specialized in recent years, it has become an important policy for each country to promote financial literacy and build risk awareness in the public. The spread and enhancement of financial education has also become an important mechanism for financial consumer protection. To strengthen financial inclusion, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched a far-reaching project on financial education, and created in 2008 the International Network on Financial Education (INFE) to proactively promote and advance the interests of financial consumers through the coordination and integration of the three elements of "financial education," "financial inclusion," and "financial consumer protection."
Jan-Juy Lin also explained that from its operation in 2012 to the end of September this year, the FOI has witnessed an increase (to 59%) of the complaint and ombudsman case resolution rate and a shorter ombudsman case closure period (averaging only 51 days). Its legal mandate, other than to resolve disputes, is to conduct financial education and awareness programs within a prevention framework. The FOI wishes that through its multifaceted education and awareness initiatives, financial consumers and financial services enterprises (FSEs) will be able to build sound financial services and consumption concepts, so that disputes can be prevented effectively. To achieve that purpose, the target audience of the FOI's devoted education and awareness efforts includes FSEs, teachers and students in schools, women and girls, and the Taiwanese aborigines. The FOI also co-hosts seminars and conferences with the Department of Consumer Protection, Executive Yuan, and assists or cooperates with the competent authorities, Taiwan Financial Services Roundtable, and related financial bodies in holding running fair for public welfare. It is now actively initiating a micro movie contest with the theme of financial consumer stories. It has conducted a total 372 awareness activity sessions, attracting a total of more than 47 thousand participants.
In her speech at the symposium, Yu-Ching Su, Chief Secretary of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), indicated that financial inclusion was put as the highest core principle during the G20 summit this year. Apart from its continuous efforts in conducing financial literacy programs, last year the FSC promulgated the Principles of Fair Treatment of Customers and this year it urged FSEs to develop Friendly Financial Services Standards, all with a view to make progress in protecting the interests of financial consumers.
The symposium invited Sue Lewis, Chair of the UK Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP), to deliver a keynote speech and introduce the current status of financial consumer protection and financial education in the UK. The FSCP is an independent statutory body set up by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2000 under the Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) to protect the interests of financial consumers. The FSCP is set up to represent the interests of financial consumers as a whole and to advise the FCA in the development of policy for the regulation of financial services. In the symposium, Sue Lewis pointed out that the need for a strong consumer voice arises from the power imbalance between financial services providers and consumers. She also explained the UK competent authority's regulatory principles for consumer protection: the FCA publishes relevant details of regulatory provisions that firms must comply with and provides guidance on the interpretation of regulatory provisions. It also carries out event-driven supervision, and "thematic" supervision in which key issues are examined in samples of enterprises. Sue Lewis also reiterated the importance of promoting consumers' financial literacy knowledge in this financial world where products are getting more and more complex and consumers are facing more risks.
As a response to the FSC's advocacy for financial inclusion, the symposium invited Tang-Chieh Wu (Secretary General of the Taiwan Financial Services Roundtable), Bor-Yi Huang (President of Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance), Meei-Ju Chiou (Director of the Banking Bureau, FSC), and Sue Lewis, all experts from the industry, government, or academia, to take part in a panel discussion on "Financial Inclusion: Improve the Quality of Financial Services," addressing issues from different perspectives of financial inclusion ("Today," "Tomorrow," "Education," and "Experience"). They also exchanged views and opinions with other participants. The symposium went well with lively interaction and ended with success.