The implementation of a joint consumer information service on Insurance, Banking, and Insurance within the ‘Autorité de Contrôle prudential – ACP’ (French Prudential Control Authority), raises questions as to the way in which the service will be coordinated with the ACP’s other activities. The signature of the agreement creating the new joint service was the occasion for Christian Noyer, Governor of the Banque de France (Central Bank of France) and President of the ACP, to clarify that this joint service, whose principal goal is consumer protection, complements the ACP’s other missions.
The speech given by Governor Christian Noyer on the occasion of the signature of an agreement between the Autorité des Marchés Financiers – AMF (the French Financial Markets Authority) and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel – ACP (The French Prudential Control Authority), defines the goals of this service, which will be called Assurance-Banque-Epargne info service (Insurance-Banking-Investments Info Service): simplify relations between private individuals and regulators within a coherent policy of supervision.
Although Governor Christian Noyer evokes the fact that this direct contact with clients is not new, it is true that Assurance-Banque-Epargne Info Service (Insurance-Bank-Investments Info Service) has the advantage of directly answering the public’s questions on any subject, which can be submitted throughits website, telephone hotline, or postal address. The goal is twofold: firstly, to orient consumers towards the appropriate authorities, such as mediation services, commissions de surendettement (commissions assessing cases of overindebtedness), or advise them on the Convention AERAS, which is a scheme enabling people who suffer from serious health risks to borrow money; lastly, to warn customers about certain commercial practices, and to provide them information on banking formalities, as well as bank, insurance and investment contracts.
Governor Christian Noyer then defined the place of the joint service: it will be a support for customer protection policies, whose most important principle is the surveillance of bank solvency. This surveillance takes the form of checking documents both submitted to the ACP and obtained during inspections within the bank, and also will take the form of verifying that banks’ commercial practices are loyal and in good faith towards their clients. The function of this service is therefore a useful complement to this mission, by enabling the ACP to supervise the intersections between banking, financial and insurance regulation, such as life-insurance policies.
Thereby, France will have a formidable supervisory arsenal at its disposal, with the joint service on one hand, directed by a coordinator, and on the other hand, the Banque de France’s branch offices, which will allow for the development of a know-how that will set an example for Europe.