8 Apr 2004

Who is it for?
Launched last month by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA), the site is aimed both at financial services professionals and at consumers concerned about the cost of financial products who may wish to compare prices.

What information does it provide?
Consumer information is given on a range of financial products such as bank accounts, savings and investments, mortgages, life, motor and general insurance. Advice on consumer rights and on how to complain effectively is also available. This seems like a useful feature if we accept the findings of recent IFSRA research that show more than 70pc of consumers are unsure where to lodge a complaint about a financial institution or advisor and that 29pc of consumers do not feel confident making a complaint. Another good feature are independent cost surveys, the first two of which – on motor insurance and personal current accounts – have been uploaded to the site. We are promised regular updates to these plus a number of new ones, including credit cards, during the coming year. On the industry side, there is information about the various businesses regulated by the IFSRA, from banks to credit card companies, credit unions to insurance firms. The site also covers legislative and regulatory matters relating to an industry that employs 50,000 people in Ireland.

How does it look?
Clean, bright and uncluttered looking – although some of the industry-related sections can be heavy going in content terms.

Best feature?
The cost surveys (in PDF format). Studying these could save you hundreds on insurance.

The verdict?
A well structured and potentially very useful website. Only minor quibble is a less than memorable title. Bookmark it now before you forget it is our advice.

By Brian Skelly