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Many Consumers Don't Believe Their Financial Interests Are Being Protected

Less than half of American consumers believe laws and regulations are appropriately protecting their financial interests, and many are dissatisfied with financial services.

Less than half of American consumers believe laws and regulations are appropriately protecting their financial interests, and many are dissatisfied with financial services.

The results of a survey published by research firm TNS found that only 46% of American consumers believe regulations do enough on their behalf, with only 26% of those who are over-indebted saying their financial interests were being well-protected. And despite new laws and regulations coming into effect, some 46% of American consumers say they are not familiar with how the legislation will affect them directly. Further, nearly half of American consumers surveyed by TNS were satisfied with basic bank services.

"It was most remarkable to us that consumers experience 'pain' on even the most basic of tasks," said Trish Dorsey, Senior Vice President and head of the North American Financial Services sector at TNS.

Credit cards drove consumer dissatisfaction in TNS' report, with 61% of those surveyed saying they are very or extremely dissatisfied with fees charged on credit cards, and the same percentage saying they are very or extremely dissatisfied with credit card interest rates. About half were dissatisfied with the terms on credit cards.

The TNS research was conducted between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14 using Light Speed Research. While the general feelings of American consumers might not have been entirely positive, Dorsey said the challenge presents an opportunity for financial institutions.

"Uncertainty creates opportunity," Dorsey said. "And today's environment creates plenty of opportunity - for financial institutions to avoid the temptation to efficiently follow but rather to actively lead. If we learned anything during the most recent financial crisis, it was that being 'present' with the consumer was critical in terms of allaying uncertainty and managing expectations. It will be important to participate in this debate with regulators and to actively engage with consumers about their fears and frustrations."

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