Retail financial services: bringing real benefits to Europe’s customers

Retail financial services is an industry which has a profound impact on the lives of Europe’s 500 million people, helping them to save, buy homes and plan for their retirement. Across the globe the retail financial services landscape is evolving rapidly. The European Commission has recognised the challenges and opportunities this will bring for EU legislation and made policy development in this area a priority for the 2014-2019 mandate.

Financial services regulation has undergone significant reform as a result of the global financial crisis. Many of the changes were driven by a desire to restore and strengthen financial stability and increase consumer protection. Now that the new regulatory regime has been put in place, policymakers wish to ensure transparency and facilitate consumer choice through digital technologies and making markets more competitive.

In part driven by mobile and other digital technologies, customers’ expectations are rapidly evolving. At the same time disruptive technologies and innovative business models are being adopted by new entrants to financial services and established players alike. This changing landscape provides significant opportunities for the customers of financial services and the industry must respond to these developments. To leverage the full potential of these opportunities, a balanced and cooperative approach will be required from all stakeholders. Doing so will provide real benefits for all of Europe’s 28 Member States and 500 million people. This report illustrates how policymakers and regulators can help unlock the potential of the Single Market in Financial Services by approaching retail finance from the customer’s perspective.