ONE in 10 people do not have a bank account, and more than 60% of consumers do not have a credit card.
A new preliminary report by the Financial Regulator, into Irish consumers’ financial capabilities — published today — has thrown up some stark statistics into Irish people’s ability to manage their financial concerns.
The survey of 1,500 people - found that 37% of respondents have some degree of difficulty keeping up with the payment of bills and other credit commitments, with the figure rising to over 60% for divorced or separated people.
Nearly 30% of consumers said that they have “no idea” of what to do when looking to make a complaint to a financial services firm, while 44% said that they are not prepared to take any risk with their savings and investments. Of those who are confident of how to make a complaint against financial institutions, 26% came from Munster, while only 11% came from Dublin.
The report also found that only 17% of people have a current account, while more than 60% don’t own a credit card. However, this is balanced out by more healthy percentages of those who have deposit and credit union accounts. Nevertheless, around 10% of Irish adults have no bank account of any sort — something which the regulator is very concerned about.
“Having a bank account is increasingly important for full participation in society, and we are working to foster full access to financial services,” said Mary O’Dea, consumer director at the Financial Regulator.
“There are a variety of reasons why some consumers don’t have a bank account — identity issues, income levels, cultural and ethnic issues. Banks and building societies in Ireland should consider how they can make their products more suitable and accessible to low-income consumers, such as providing ‘low cost, no frills’ bank accounts.”
Ms O’Dea said that while her office was surprised at some of the figures, the results were neither better nor worse than might have been expected and that it would be wrong to suggest that consumers are financially illiterate.
When it comes to the shop around mantra of both the Consumer Agency and the Financial Regulator, 65% of those surveyed said they had done just that for mortgages, over the course of the last five years, while 53% said likewise for general insurance products. However, only 17%-18% said they had shopped around for loans or current account products.
Ms O’Dea said these results could only be viewed as a benchmark of the Regulator’s effectiveness when later reports are carried out. A more detailed report is due later this year.
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