QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 85 - Page 15

Research helps ensure better consumer representation in payments sector A NEW REPORT examining the best approaches to ensure effective consumer representation in the governance of financial services was released in the autumn. Work on the report was led by consumer specialist Carol Brennan, Director of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre at QMU. The research, commissioned by Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs) – the organisation behind Direct Debit, Bacs Direct Credit and the Current Account Switch Service - identifies ways in which consumer representation can be improved across the financial industry. The aim is to ensure that the needs of end-users are put at the centre of discussions on how to develop, deliver and monitor the effectiveness of new products and services. The publication also highlights that principles in relation to culture, people and processes underpin effective consumer representation, whilst it is suggested that a mix of both representatives on boards, and a collective forum, can provide an influential and effective voice for consumers. The findings conclude that strong consumer representation should be viewed as integral to an organisation’s strategy and that when consumers are put at the heart of corporate decision making, better outcomes are achieved. Anne Pieckielon, Bacs’ Director of Product and Strategy, said: “At Bacs we are big believers that only by putting the needs of consumers front and centre, when it comes to decision making, can the best outcomes be achieved for all. “By commissioning this research we hope that our work can help inform governance decisions across the industry, spark further discussion about what best practice looks like and help set a benchmark for true consumer engagement at the highest levels within organisations." Carol Brennan concluded: “The financial services market is complex, and power is traditionally weighted in favour of providers. This asymmetry of power compromises the effectiveness of competition and can lead to consumer detriment. Effective consumer representation can help rebalance the asymmetry of power in the market, bring clarity about the issues faced by consumers and help prioritise strategies to address problems and forward plan effectively. “Our research confirms that consumers should be put at the heart of all decision making and that consumer representation should be viewed as part of a company’s broader consumer engagement, communication and advocacy strategy. Customer values should be at the very core of service providers’ culture and strategy to ensure future sustainability. ❒ CONSUMER DISPUTE RESOLUTION CENTRE QMU’S CONSUMER DISPUTE Resolution Centre (CDRC) is a centre of excellence in consumer dispute resolution and consumer policy. The Centre provides continuing professional development (CPD), research, and consultancy services to business, government, and third sector organisations in the UK and across the world. The Centre’s particular expertise concerns dispute resolution between individuals and large organisations, for example, between consumers and businesses and between citizens and the government. Its focus is on understanding consumer perspectives on dispute resolution and developing the idea that users should be at the heart of dispute resolution systems and processes. The Centre also has broader interests in relation to consumer policy, and issues such as regulation, representation, consumer advice, and enforcement. If you would like to discuss your organisation’s research or continuing professional development needs contact Carol Brennan on E: cbrennan@qmu.ac.uk QMYOU / Research & Knowledge Exchange 15