European conference "Accessible and fair financial services: alternatives to mainstream banking”
11-12 May, Madrid
Access to financial services has become indispensable for social inclusion. Without a bank account, a family cannot receive payments such as a salary or social benefits or make payments for essential expenditure such as rent or utility bills. Access to other financial products and services such as a mortgage, a life insurance or a pension are just as important during a family's lifetime.
The conference built on these premises and explored the question of how alternative banking could contribute to ensure access to fair and quality financial services for all families. After a welcome address form COFACE President Annemie Drieskens, Mick McAteer, chair ofthe FSUG, kicked off the conference by sketching an overview of the current financial and economic situation and the pressing need for financial inclusion.
The conference explored a variety of aspects of financial inclusion through five panel sessions:
1. The importance of independent and quality financial guidance to help families makethe right decisions during their entire life course, there by preventing overindebtdness and fostering responsible borrowing.
2. The availability of affordable credit and the alternatives that may exist to"traditional" credit such as micro credit, social mortgage loans orsolidarity loans for families in vulnerable situations, all of which often include a proper assessment of a family's needs and provide a follow up to prevent such problems as defaults.
3. The issue of overindebtedness, looking at abusive lending practices such as loans in foreign currency andat solutions for families that default on payments or are insolvent such as personal bankruptcy laws.
4. The added value of alternative banking institutions such as cooperative banks, ethical banks and credit unions both for the economy and for families.
5. The necessity to ensure a proper representation of alternative banking institutions in policy making to prevent laws and regulations that favorthe "big" banks at the detriment of ethical banks, cooperative banksor credit unions.
The conference was co-organised by the Municipal Institute of Consumption of the City Council of Madrid, the General Association of Consumers (ASGECO) and the Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE).
Presentation of the conference:
Martin Schmalzried, Policy Officer COFACE
Panel 1: Independent information and guidance [WATCH VIDEO]
Carmen Rebollo Sánchez, Head of Consumer Information Service, Municipal Institute of Consumption of the Madrid City Council Jean-Bernard Audureau, ASGECO Rémi Therme, French Family Organisations (UNAF) Anne Fily, European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) Christel Verhas, Flemish Family Organisations (Gezinsbond)
Panel 4: Alternatives to commercial banks [WATCH VIDEO]
Bernard Bayot, Director Financité/NewB Joan Ramon Sanchís Palacio, Author of the book "The bank we need"
Enrique Castelló Muñoz, Professor of Business Economics,Universidad Complutense de Madrid Daniel Sorrosal, EuropeanFederation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA)
Panel 5: The role of civil society and alternative financial institutions in policy making [VIDEO]
Katarzyna Hanula Bobbitt, Finance Watch Matt Bland, Association of British Credit Unions(ABCUL) Javier Contreras Forns, ADICAE Consumers and Member of the European Banking Authority Stakeholder Group
1. AWARENESS RAISING VIDEO
On the occasion of our conference on Accessible and Fair Financial Services on 11-12 May, COFACE produced a video that shows why financial inclusion is so important for families; giving a few practical examples of how civil society organizations and better policies can secure financial inclusion for all.
The awareness raising video on Accessible and Fair Financial Services is targeted towards the wider public and is meant to be shared widely. It explains in very simple terms why financial inclusion is so important to families and gives a few pointers towards concrete steps to take to make good financial decisions such as seeking independent financial guidance and managing your family budget responsibly.
Financial inclusion is an integral part of social inclusion in general. For instance, having access to a basic bank account is a precondition to receive social benefits, access employment, pay for rent or utility bills.
The COFACE conference Accessible and Fair Financial services held in Madrid on the11th and 12th of May has brought together a wide variety of speakers that discussed topics at the heart of the needs of families: access to quality and affordable credit to buy a car or a house, access to independentinformation and guidance, protection from evictions for families in financialdistress, availability of alternative/ethical banks, and the necessity of goodpolicy making. All of the interventions are available online on COFACE’s Youtube account!
Throughout the conference, COFACE members presented many good practices related to various aspects of financial inclusion such as information campaigns directed to families, solidarity loans for monoparental families, social mortgage credits for low income families, etc. All of these good practices will be compiled and published inside a compendium at the end of this year.
2. THE COMPENDIUM
The compendium is directed towards policy makers. It shows how civil society organizations can contribute to achieve financial inclusion for families and proposes policy recommendations on the basis of these good practices and on the outcome of the conference.
Please watch this space or feel free to contact us to have updated information on the compendium!
La COFACE bénéficie du soutien du programme communautaire pour l’emploi et l'innovation
sociale (EaSI). Les opinions exprimées dans ce site web ne reflètent pas nécessairement
la position de la Commission européenne.