TLT partner Robin Penfold talks, as part of The Lawyer's In-house Financial Services Virtual Conference, about the need for innovation in the retail financial services sector, and seizing the green finance opportunity.  

The retail financial services sector looks to emerge as one of the hardest hit by COVID-19.  Data from UK Finance shows over 1.6 million mortgage payment holidays have been offered to homeowners impacted by COVID-19 (this means a staggering one in seven mortgages are now covered by payment holidays) and almost 1.5 million payment holidays have been approved on credit cards and personal loans.

As the economy emerges from lockdown and retailers and the housing market reopen, never before has innovation in the retail financial services sector been more needed.  For retail financial services providers, the opportunity to secure their role in the green economic recovery is now.

A recent report from the Green Finance Institute’s Coalition of Energy Efficient Buildings (CEEB) provides a vital step towards bridging the gap between policy-maker’s energy efficiency and net zero targets and private finance.

Consumer behaviour appears to be changing too.  Anecdotally I hear from a number of lenders that are seeing increasing demand from consumers for products with purpose that align with their values rather than making decisions on price alone.

Ready availability of private finance is critically important to meeting these targets, including decarbonising and adapting the UK’s housing stock to drive energy efficiency. The CEEBs work is likely to provide a catalyst for consumer finance providers to start exploring the product development opportunities in this market with earnest.  As more data emerges about the market opportunity as well as the legislative, regulatory and ethical drivers, expect to see this as a key product development trend for 2020/21.

As we think about the future of society and the economy, green finance represents a real opportunity for change.  What better time for legal teams to support transition to a low-carbon economy and facilitate innovation, by working with product development teams to ensure the retail financial services industry emerges strong and sustainable.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

Date published

23 June 2020


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