Consumentenbescherming door informatie? Een analyse van 30 jaar beleid voor korte precontractuele informatiedocumenten over complexe financiële producten in Europa, Engeland, Nederland en Duitsland

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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A recent study concluded that around 60% of sales of complex financial products in the EU may be deemed unsuitable for consumers. The ‘Woekerpolis’ and ‘Effectenlease’ scandals in the Netherlands are just two of many examples of the mis-selling of financial products to consumers. Legislators aim to protect future consumers in a better way by mandatory information documents for financial products. The main focus of the dissertation is whether this indeed helps consumers to better understand financial products and to take better investment decisions.

Results from the dissertation show that information documents do not significantly contribute to make financial products understandable. Firstly, it appeared that these documents did not succeed in this for the last 30 years. Secondly, this type of information is not in line with current insights of consumers’ behaviour: In contradiction to what has been assumed for a long time, a consumer is not acting like a computer that is fed with input and automatically determines the right decisions. Nowadays, it is known that consumers tend to be irrational and make mistakes. This new picture of consumers does not fit with mandatory information because rationality is necessary to understand it. Although this study demonstrates several ways to make the documents more understandable, such as clear language and pictures instead of text, legislators cannot change the way consumers are. It appears that information is not used by many consumers when they make investment decisions. Furthermore, consumers are often not motivated to dive into complex financial products. Lastly, many consumers lack the knowledge and skills to understand these products. A complex obstacle is that psychological literature shows that one information document can be interpreted in a complete different way by different consumers.

The dissertation concludes that consumers on the financial markets are insufficiently protected by information. Therefore, they risk to lose significant amounts of money. This study argues that money, time and energy should not be spend too much on informing consumers about financial products and that further action must be undertaken to guarantee sufficient protection of consumers on the financial markets.
Original languageDutch
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Verheij, Albert, Supervisor
  • van Boom, W.H., Supervisor, External person
  • Sarampalis, Anastasios, Co-supervisor
  • Mak, V., Assessment committee, External person
  • Pavillon, Charlotte, Assessment committee
  • Winter, Heinrich, Assessment committee
Award date20-Sept-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-6290-547-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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