A couple of items in the news over the past week or so caught my eye and got me thinking. But not thinking entirely seriously for one of them, and perhaps with the merest hint of scepticism for the other.
First of all, I am pleased to read that the UK Financial Conduct Authority remains committed to delivering on the government’s overall approach of keeping the scope of consumer credit regulation broadly the same, and that there are no significant differences in the type of loan agreement that will be exempt from being regulated agreements in the future. So, from 2014 onwards – when the FCA assumes responsibility for the regulation of consumer credit agreements – our unsecured borrowing will benefit from the same degree of regulation as our first charge borrowing secured on land or property.
But, what I didn’t realise is that my cycle to work scheme agreement will be exempt from the new regulation. So, employers will not need to be authorised for consumer hire activity. Should I be concerned?
I think the answer has to be ‘no’. I say this because if authorisation became necessary, how many employers would stop offering this worthwhile scheme, one that promotes health, and makes cycling much more affordable for many more people? A very sensible approach to regulation from the FCA, in my opinion, as the risks to consumers must be outweighed by the benefits of fit and healthy employees.
The other item I thought about was in the announcements from the Payments Council, reminding us that the Current Account Switch Service will go live on 16th September. Hooray, I hear you shout. Given that we are also told that one of the main barriers to switching has always been customer inertia, will making it faster encourage more people to bother with changing? After all, what is the compelling financial incentive? Yes, there is the occasional sweetener in the shape of either a one off payment by the bank, or some form of monthly reward for paying in a regular amount, but taking a long term view, is that a big deal?
Time will tell, but at least if you have had a bad experience with one provider, at least it should be quicker and easier to move from next month.
But you won’t be able to move your payment for your Cycle to Work scheme bike to your new bank because that is deducted directly from your salary!”