institut für finanzdienstleistungen e.V. – Viel gefragt für 2010

Das mit der Hamburger Universität durch einen Kooperationsvertrag mit der alten HWP, der jetzt angepasst werden soll, auch personell verbundene Institut für Finanzdienstleistungen e.V. (Fachbereich Sozialökonomie, WiSo Fakultät) hat eine weitere Ausschreibung über mehr als 220.000 € der EU-Kommission für 2010 gewonnen. Damit steigt das aktuelle Auftragsvolumen des iff für Staat, Banken und Verbände auf 1.330.485 €. Hinzu kommen Umsätze für die 5. Finanzdienstleistungskonferenz des iff diesmal in der Handelskammer Hamburg im Juli 2010, die bereits über Sponsoren finanziell gesichert ist. Das iff erwartet ca. 200 Gäste aus Banken und Stakeholderorganisationen. Weiter gehören dazu Aufträge wie von der Stadt Quickborn über die rechtlichen Bedingungen eines Bürgerdarlehens, von der Verbraucherzentrale Hessen zur strukturellen Verbesserung der Verbraucherfinanzberatung. Ein Forschungsförderungskonzept im Bereich ökonomischer Bildung soll 2010 dem Bundesforschungsministerium übergeben werden, Beratungstermine allein im November 2010 bei Weltbank, OECD und Generaldirektion Beschäftigung und Sozialpolitik der EU zu Themen wie Finanzbildung, Überschuldung und Microlending, eine Finanzsoftware FinanzCheck zur Berechnung von Krediten für die Verbraucherzentralen oder die neue Version 8.3 der führenden Schuldnerberatungssoftware CAWIN, die Publikation des jährlichen Überschuldungsreports im Auftrag der Genossenschaftsbanken stehen neben Aufträgen von Banken für ein Informationsblatt bei Anlagekäufen und einem internationalen Forschungsprojekt mit sieben Universitäten zu den Querverbindungen zwischen den rechtlichen Schutzmechanismen bei Verbraucherkredit, Arbeits- und Wohnraummietverhältnissen in Geschichte und Gegenwart (locatio conductio/EuSoCo). Auf den Websites des iff wird die Arbeit ausführlich dokumentiert z.B. unter der Rubrik „PROJEKTE und FORSCHUNG”. Im folgenden nur die Information über die EU-Projekte der letzten Jahre.

Brussels confirms its confidence in the Hamburg institute and its staff

Iff is once again rewarded for its independent thinking and quality and integrity in its research of financial services markets.

The European Commission has this week recognised the quality and impartiality of the iff by awarding it a third major research project in two years. The study of interest rate restrictions in the EU on behalf of DG Internal Market is a research project that will last throughout 2010. It is one of the last remaining research projects to have been set out in the Commission’s White Paper on the Integration of EU Mortgage Credit Markets at end 2007.

The award comes on the back of three related studies which iff has also carried out for DG Internal Market and DG Health & Consumers which have depended on reliable international contacts and a fair inclusive stakeholder approach to scientific research. Together the 4 projects show that under the leadership and expertise of Prof. Udo Reifner and Dr. Achim Tiffe, and with its balanced team of law experts, sociologists and economists, the institute has a well respected international reputation. The international dimension not only helps it research at the European level, but allows the iff to share its findings from other EU Member States when it conducts research on financial services in Germany.

Four EU Projects in 4 Years!

2010: Study on interest rate restrictions (forthcoming)

The objective of this study is to identify the different forms that interest rate restrictions may take, the Member States that apply them, and their economic, financial, and social impacts on identified stakeholder groups and on the functioning of the single market. The findings of the study will help inform the Commission on whether any action taken at the EU level is necessary. Iff will investigate in which EU Member States interest rate restrictions exist (e.g. anti-usury rules, interest variation limits, prohibition of compound interest etc.) and will analyse their effects (e.g. if they actually prevent the cross-border circulation of some products). To help answer such questions, the iff will work together with the ZEW (Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) who has been chosen for its valuable expertise for the economic part of this study. (More info to follow)

2009: Study on the costs and benefits of the policy options for mortgage credit (yet to be published)

Together with other project partners who are economists, iff was involved in the study providing an analysis of the costs and benefits of the different policy options outlined by the European Commission in its White Paper on mortgage loans. Options considered fall into four areas of mortgage credit: pre-contractual information, Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC), responsible lending and early repayment. Iff was responsible for organising consultation with consumers in 10 EU Member States where iff collected the views and preferences of consumers in order to help evaluate potential behavioural responses to the proposed mortgage policy options. In annex to the main report, iff has written the findings from its 500 consumer surveys including the qualitative results from its consumer focus groups. An additional annex with iff involvement provides the legal situation which was used to establish an accurate baseline from which the effects of policy options could be measured.

2008: Study of Equity Release Schemes

This study published in 3 separate parts involved a product, market, regulatory, and legal analysis of equity release schemes available to consumers in the EU Member States. The task was to clarify definitions of how consumers can access the wealth in their housing asset and describe both the different types of schemes that exist (i.e. mechanisms using real estate to generate funds during retirement such as ‚reverse mortgages‘) and the risks to consumers of these products. We highlighted the characteristics of the legal or regulatory environment preventing the introduction of such schemes. Over 300 stakeholders were surveyed and their opinions on this innovative conceptual product recorded. With the exception of the UK, the country with the most significant national market in the EU, the markets for both forms of equity release schemes (which iff have classified as either Loan Model ERS or Sale Model ERS) remain small (under 0.1 % of the EU overall mortgage market). Tax law and an unlevel fiscal treatment were seen as significant barriers to further growth in the ERS markets, ranging from excessive stamp duties and notary fees, to schemes being subject to income tax, or non-eligibility of the schemes to existing homeownership incentives. Supervision and regulation of ERS is crucial because of the intensive advice required and the vulnerability and risks inherent in most products. The report also distinguishes ERS from other fundamentally different alternative mechanisms for equity withdrawal which are currently in decline due to falling house prices (e.g. the use of second mortgages for private consumption purposes other than for providing retirement income).

2007-2008: Legal analysis of cross-border business in financial services

Under the title ”Impact of Directive 2002/65/EC concerning the distance-marketing of consumer financial services on the conclusion of cross-border financial service contracts between professionals and consumers”, this study for DG SANCO involved the collaboration between 27 national legal experts, 27 national consumer associations and national ombudsmen. Iff contributed a report that analysed what obstacles exist from a legal perspective that may be preventing the further development of cross-border shopping.

Although the iff has a long standing relationship working for European Institutions such as the European Commission spanning over decades, these 4 recent research projects followed a number of years where iff was less successful with their applications.

The last dated from 2003 when iff monitored the uptake and the effectiveness of self-regulation in the area of mortgage credit. This was a mystery shopping exercise conducted with 23 national consumer associations to verify industry adherence and usefulness of the EU voluntary Code of Conduct on pre-contractual information for Home Loans. Monitoring involved conducting consumer tests to verify that the European credit and financial institutions that had registered to the European agreement actually fulfilled their commitments. The 750 mystery shopping tests carried out enabled to identify shortfalls for consumers, and highlight a lack of effectiveness of the existing codes of practice supposed to ensure consumer safety at the decision making stage of their purchase. (Ongoing research on the European Standardised Information Sheet (ESIS) leads on from this 2003 study by the iff).