All families have needs. Having a place to live, paying the bills, acquiring a means of transportation or simply being able to make and receive payments with a bank account. Financial services are essential to all households but some are excluded from access to basic financial products. Even if at the time of signing for a credit or a mortgage everything is going well, many things can happen. All families are vulnerable when it comes to financial services.

Over the years, financial products, including mortgages have become more complex. Families may be misled into taking the wrong decision, lower income families are particularly prone to taking riskier products, like loans in a foreign currency. During a family’s life cycle, anything can happen: a spike in family spending, all of these situations can lead to not being able to pay back their loan. The results can be disastrous: getting new loans to pay for your old ones, falling deeper into debt and poverty, losing your belongings or even your home.

What are the alternatives?

Independent financial guidance and a good financial education and awareness of the risks of the different choices allow families to take good financial decisions at key moments in their family life. Budgetary education helps families manage their budget better, like save up money for unforeseen expenditure like illness or accidents, to make more informed consumer choices, and avoid falling into traps like multiple credit cards.

There can be solidarity in financial services, via the mutualisation of certain risks, which would allow even low income families to have access to a mortgage or credit. Better laws serving the interest of families and consumers are fundamental in ensuring access to fair financial products and services like bank accounts, credits, mortgages and lifting people out of poverty. They should support alternative banking institutions. Some of these measures include social and micro-credit initiatives, access to basic financial services such as a basic bank account or capping interest rates and preventing usury practices. Banks should carry out better credit-worthiness checks to avoid reckless lending practices.

Watch our video “Accessible and Fair Financial Services: Alternatives to Mainstream Banking”

Have a look at our Compendium on Financial Inclusion: Good practices from family organisations

compendium-financial-inclusion-en    compendium-financial-inclusion-fr    compendium-financial-inclusion-es

More information about the publications here


Seminar on Social Policy and Mortgage Lending – The Danish Mortgage Model in a European perspective, Copenhagen, 2017
Finance Denmark and COFACE Families Europe co-host a seminar on financial inclusion – How to improve access to affordable and stable financing for European families, specifically on financing access to housing. The seminar will put a special focus the Danish mortgage model, as one example of a financing model that has provided Danish home owners with inexpensive and stable financing for more than two centuries. A main theme for the seminar is to explore, whether experiences from the Danish model can be a source of inspiration for the larger European family-political-agenda to secure better and cheaper loans to European families. More information

Conference on financial inclusion and the alternatives to mainstream banking, Madrid, 2015
COFACE Families Europe, in collaboration with its member ASGECO, the General Association of Consumers and the Municipal Institute of Consumption of the City Council of Madrid organised a conference on financial inclusion and the alternatives to mainstream banking at the Madrid City Council on 11-12 May 2015. The conference addressed key issues about access to independent and quality information and essential financial products for families, showing that alternatives exist, even for the most vulnerable families. More information

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