John Glen MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, spoke of the importance of having a financial system that consumers can trust when he addressed the CityUK annual conference in June 2019.
Mr Glen has held the Economic Secretary brief for the last 17 months. His role is sometimes referred to as ‘the City Minister’, so he is the government minister most closely associated with the financial services industry.
On the theme of consumer outcomes, Mr Glen said:
“If the financial crash and subsequent recovery taught me anything, it’s that the task of earning people’s faith in our financial system is an unending one. People should be confident that the right products and services will be there for them at the key moments of their lives. Those services also need to be there for the whole of society: for the elderly, the vulnerable, the young, and the less well-off. Because if our financial system only works for the wealthy, or the comfortable, then it’s not really working at all.”
Listing some measures taken in recent years, Mr Glen mentioned:
• Price caps on payday loans and rent-to-own finance
• Additional regulatory interventions in doorstep lending, catalogue credit and overdrafts, all designed to improve customer outcomes
• Trying to boost the supply of affordable credit by developing credit unions and community lenders
• New ways to assist mortgage prisoners
• Making it easier for small businesses to claim redress when they are harmed by the actions of firms
• Merging three organisations to form the Money and Pensions Service, with the aim of providing better and more integrated financial guidance to consumers
Mr Glen also spoke of the need for the financial system to adapt to the changing world, by commenting:
“As new technologies come to the fore … we have an obligation to ensure the benefits are felt across society, being accessible to all. These issues won’t go away – government, industry and regulators must work cooperatively and intelligently to find solutions.”
The minister explained how he was conscious of the consequences of over-regulation when he said:
“My worry is that if you ratchet up the cost of regulation, you will drive our FinTechs and start-ups overseas, along with all the promise and opportunity they represent. And I don’t believe you can have an enterprising, dynamic and competitive environment without a degree of risk.
“Few great entrepreneurs follow a linear path. Risk is a spur for competition. It’s what pushes us forward. My view is that so long as we guard against systemic risk – and safeguard consumers – we should do our utmost to create the space for enterprise and innovation to thrive.”
The speech also covered the ways Mr Glen has sought to listen to firms during his period in office, including hearing about how insurers had used new pricing models in response to consumer concerns over value-for-money, and how fintech firms were having difficulties competing for the best computer programmers and data scientists.
Finally, Mr Glen urged the next Prime Minister to ensure that the UK remained at the centre of the global financial system.
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