Exploratory investigation ‘behind the scenes’ of comparison sites for financial products

The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) will investigate the way in which financial products are compared on comparison websites in 2014.

This is a follow-up to previous investigations of the provision of information on comparison websites. The AFM still has to determine the scope of its investigation ‘behind the scenes’ of comparison sites. Consumers are increasingly using comparison websites to choose financial products. It is important that this comparison leads to a product that is suitable for the consumer. The AFM wishes to obtain more information on the factors playing a part in the production of a comparison.

Provision of information

The AFM investigated the provision of information by 33 comparison sites for financial products in 2012. This revealed that many sites do not provide enough information to consumers regarding exactly what they do, or this information (if provided) is difficult to find, and that they do not state how they earn their money, how comparisons are produced and how complete these comparisons are. In most cases, therefore, consumers cannot assess what value they can attach to the results of a comparison. However, the provision of information had improved compared to the end of 2011, when the AFM carried out its first market scan of comparison websites.

Advice to consumers

Consumers would be well advised to take a critical view with respect to website providers and the results of online comparisons. It may be useful for consumers to make comparisons for the same product on various sites in order to make a good choice. This is especially the case if the consumer has doubts about the value of the comparison, for instance because it is not clear how many providers or products are included in the comparison.

The AFM promotes fairness and transparency within financial markets. We are the independent supervisory authority for the savings, lending, investment and insurance markets. We promote the fair and conscientious provision of financial services to consumers and private investors, as well as professional and semi-professional parties. We supervise the fair and efficient operation of the capital markets. Our aim is to improve consumers’ and companies’ confidence in the financial markets, both in the Netherlands and abroad. In performing this task, the AFM contributes to the stability of the financial system, the economy and the reputation and prosperity of the Netherlands.

The AFM is committed to promoting fair and transparent financial markets.

As an independent market conduct authority, we contribute to a sustainable financial system and prosperity in the Netherlands.

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