Research into consumer financial services

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1 1 5/10/11 Call for proposals Research into consumer financial services A call under the Financial Market Research programme.

2 2 1. The call in brief VINNOVA is Sweden s innovation agency and exists to increase the competitiveness of researchers and companies in Sweden. An important part of VINNOVA s activity is raising cooperation between companies, universities, research institutes and other organisations in the innovation system. We achieve this in several ways including: long-term investment in strong research and innovation milieus; investing in projects which enhance the commercialisation of research results; creating catalytic meetings. Success factors include an efficient innovation system which in turn must comprise a working financial market. In 2009, based on its experiences of running major research and innovation programmes and working with different actors, VINNOVA was tasked by the Swedish government to manage a research programme to look into the conditions for efficient financial markets. See the research theme under Appendix 1 and background to the programme under Appendix 2. Up-to-date information on the call and invitation plus a link to the application function are available on the Calls for Proposals webpage on under Calls for Proposals. Please note: VINNOVA reserves the right to alter this call for proposals text at any time during the call period and without prior warning. However, no changes will be made during the four weeks prior to each deadline. All potential applicants are therefore recommended to retrieve up-to-date information from the Calls for Proposals webpage prior to each deadline. 2. Who the call targets This call, Research into consumer financial services targets Swedish universities and research institutes in collaboration with private and/or private financial market actors. Financial market actors means public and private actors whose activity relates to the financial markets, such as banks, insurance companies, government agencies etc. The principal applicants for research funds are universities and research institutes, but naturally industry actors may draft research questions. 3. Description of the call 3.1 Background and content of the call This is the third call under the Financial Market Research programme and addresses the subject of consumer financial services. This differs from the previous two calls which focused on creating strong research milieus (centres and industry PhD students). The economic turbulence of recent years has focused a great deal of attention on consumers financial decisions and how financial services are presented and delivered to consumers. A financial decision might be, for example, how consumers choose to save for their pensions. In

3 3 recent decades, the way for individual financial decisions by consumers has increased. For public and private actors, there is a challenge in that consumers appear variously wellprepared for taking these financial decisions. Consumers background knowledge influences their decisions and how great an understanding they have of risks and fees. Conceivable issues within this area might be: What decision-making processes are there for purchasing financial services? How can these consumer services be designed efficiently? What constitutes efficiently? Is there a distinction between consumer behaviour patterns in Sweden compared with other countries? In the US and EU, agencies have been created which produce regulations to protect consumers when they purchase financial services. How do these institutional changes influence consumers? Does this affect the Swedish case and if so, how? In what way will industry actors who provide consumer services be influenced by future consumer protection rules and the forthcoming changes in the rules such as Basel III and Solvency II? Moreover, the applications should come under the framework of the Financial Market Research programme, see Appendix 1, Programme research themes. 3.2 Aims The aim of the call Research into consumer financial services is to: Initiate research projects of major relevance to industry actors by creating partnership projects. Stimulate pioneering research within the area of this call that is internationally competitive. Creates connections between researchers in Sweden and between researchers and industry actors within the field of consumer financial services. In the longer run, provide consumers with better financial services. 3.3 Objectives The objectives of the call are to: Enhance the knowledge base on consumer financial services so as to increase opportunities for utilisation in both the short and long terms. Public and private industry actors may use the research results to: o develop new services; o improve the regulations. Enhance the conditions for more effective collaboration between academia and industry actors by creating networks between them. 3.4 Scope of the call The call will fund 5-12 research projects. The budget for the call is a maximum of SEK 10 million. Approved projects shall be co-financed by financial industry actors in at least the same sum as that granted by VINNOVA. Applications should relate to the cutting edge of research in the field and also clarify the benefit to the financial market actors in the project. The project duration is a maximum of three years.

4 4 To aid utilisation of the research results and create a critical mass of research projects, VINNOVA will arrange two conferences. The first will be a start-up conference, in which approved research projects will be able to introduce themselves and their research fields. The second will be a concluding conference, in which research results are presented and discussed by researchers and industry actors. This call for proposals will be conducted in a single stage, i.e. a funding decision will be taken based on the documentation submitted to VINNOVA. No planning grants will be awarded. 4. Schedule The following dates apply to this call. Please note that changes may be made. See this call s webpage for up-to-date details: Start date: 5/10/11. Last application date: 15/11/11. At (2.00 PM). Final decision date: 1/12/ Budget for the call The budget for the call is a maximum of SEK 10 million. The money will be used to fund 5-12 research projects. 6. Application requirements The following eligibility requirements must be met for an application to be examined by VINNOVA: Applications for funding should be in keeping with the aims and objectives of the call for proposals as stated above and should clearly indicate how the applicant will meet these aims and achieve these objectives. However, an important part of the application is a description of how the proposed project is envisaged to develop the knowledge position within the relevant field and the envisaged use of the research by the relevant financial market actors. The research project covered by the application shall be related to the stated research themes. See Appendix Applicant requirements Applicants must meet the following requirements: The applicant shall be the university where the research project is mostly conducted.

5 5 Applicants and other parties to an application that is granted funds shall participate in the implementation of monitoring, evaluations and impact analyses, both while the project is funded by VINNOVA and for at least three years after VINNOVA s funding has ended. 8. Terms The subsidy terms for Research into consumer financial services are regulated by VINNOVA s General Subsidy Terms (Term 2, collaboration). In accordance with the intentions of the government mandate that financial market actors should provide funds equivalent to the public investment, VINNOVA requires applicants to demonstrate co-financing from a financial market actor equivalent to at least the sum being sought from VINNOVA. Co-financing may consist of cash, work in-kind or other efforts in-kind as per the document, VINNOVA s General Recommendations on Approved Costs and Co-Financing for Subsidies. Both VINNOVA s Terms and VINNOVA s General Guidance on Approved Costs and Approved Co-Financing for Grants may be downloaded from the VINNOVA website under For applicants. 9. How to apply Applications should be submitted electronically via the application service on VINNOVA s eservices Portal. This is accessed through the Calls for Proposals webpage on the VINNOVA website under How to Apply. Applications should be written in English since the assessment process will involve foreign researchers and financial market actors. To submit an application, applicants must first create a user account with VINNOVA. This may then be used to log into the application service. If applicants already have a VINNOVA user account, they may use this. Please note that applications should be in no later than 14:00 on the final application date: 15 th November No additions may be made to applications after this time unless requested by VINNOVA. For information on the content of the application, see Content of applications below. 10. Assessment Applications will be assessed by an external assessment group consisting of researchers and representatives of public and private financial market actors. VINNOVA will then take the formal funding decision and inform all applicants.

6 6 11. Confidentiality of applications In general, applications to this call for proposals are public documents which the general public is entitled to see. This also applies to applications which are declined. VINNOVA s decisions and the reasons for them are also public domain. Nevertheless, VINNOVA has a duty to classify as secret all information about an individual s commercial or operational situation, inventions and research results, if there is reason to suppose that the individual may suffer economic harm should such information be published. In the first instance, VINNOVA programme manager will determine whether an application contains information which should be classified. For further information about confidentiality rules in applications please contact the programme manager, see Contacts. 12. Assessment criteria The following criteria will be applied by VINNOVA in assessing applications. 1. Relevance. 2. Quality. a. Applications will be assessed on how well the proposed project matches the direction and attributes described in section 3 above and in Appendix 1, Programme research themes. b. Applications will be assessed based on how well the proposed project may strengthen the Swedish knowledge base in the area of financial market research. a. Scientific quality. Applications will be assessed based on how the proposed research areas relate thematically and methodologically to the scientific frontline of the academic topics within which the researchers are operating. The applicant should clearly demonstrate this in their application. b. Scientific innovation. Real scientific breakthroughs often take place at the intersections between different academic disciplines. For this reason, there will also be favourable appraisal of projects which aim to create new combinations of academic disciplines towards increased understanding and relevance. c. Effective knowledge exchange between researchers and public and private financial market actors. Applications will also be assessed based on quality and innovation in terms of the research project s role as a bridge-builder between researchers and actors in the financial market. 3. Practicability. The following aspects will be scrutinised when considering applicants prospects of carrying out the activities described in their applications: a. The researchers experience of initiating or participating in projects or other activities with public and private financial market actors on different levels (internationally, nationally, regionally) and different sections of the financial market.

7 7 b. The researchers access to the necessary networks in academia, policy, government administration and industry for implementation of the project. c. The researchers access to international contacts within academia, industry and society, indicating that the project has the capacity to be measured against and influenced by relevant research in other countries. d. Nature and extent of co-financing. A high degree of co-financing from financial market actors will be regarded favourably, since this will be seen as an expression of the actor s interest in the project. In-kind initiatives from financial market actors, such as access to databases or research time will be regarded favourably, as they strengthen the connection between academia and industry. 4. Developability/usefulness. An assessment will be made of how and to what extent the proposed project helps: a. generate relevant knowledge for the participating financial market actors, b. advance the co-financing party s activity in the short and long terms. Based on these criteria, VINNOVA will make an overall assessment of the application. The criteria will recur in monitoring, evaluations and impact analyses. 13. Content of applications The application service comprises a number of electronic forms for completion by the applicant. A project description and personnel appendix should be attached to the application. Only these appendices will be considered for the application. The appendices should be in PDF format. The project description should be a maximum of 20,000 characters (the equivalent of no more than 10 A4 pages of 12-point text). Applications shall relate to the forefront of research in the field and lay out the benefit of the project to financial market actors. Applications should be written in English and shall include the following: Project title in Swedish and English. Outline. Purpose of the project, linked to that of the call for proposals. Objectives of the project, linked to those of the call for proposals. The project s anticipated results and benefit to the various participants in the short and long terms. A description of the project and its relationship to the forefront of research A description of how knowledge transfer to co-financing financial market actors and any other interested parties will take place. Implementation plan for the project including a schedule and activity plan, resource plan, budget etc. Account of the project funding including a description of the nature of co-financing being requested.

8 8 Corporate ID number and workplace for the various parties in the project. The personnel appendix should contain relevant CVs for the project leader and other key people in the project s implementation. The personnel appendix should be a maximum total of eight A4 pages of 12-point text. 14. Contacts Contacts for the call for proposals are: Peter Svensson, manager of the programme and call for proposals, tel: For questions about the application function, please contact: VINNOVA IT Support, tel: ,

9 9 Appendix 1. Programme research themes The research should fall within the parameters of those areas highlighted in the Research and Innovation Bill of The following is a description of these areas, which is the same as in the previous two calls in the programme. Macroeconomic financial market research. Given the international financial crises which have affected the global financial markets in the last 15 years, the need to understand the way those markets function is greater than ever. What are the mechanisms which allow critical trends to spread very rapidly across the world? Which impacts are disseminated and which remain more local? Which nations and actors may be affected, how much and when? Can risks in international financial systems be measured and predicted? Advanced knowledge, refined models and methods to analyse and new taxonomies to understand the workings and developmental patterns of the global financial markets are a central field of research within the Financial Market Research programme. In order to achieve such knowledge, comparative studies are invited between nations, industries and actors, among others. Also of major interest is research focusing on the development of models and analytical tools to identify, measure, assess and predict systemic risks and the effect of these risks on the economy. The same applies to analyses aimed at developing and evaluating instruments and actions intended to strengthen system stability. Microeconomic financial market research. Naturally, research into the formation, function and development of different types of markets for financial products and services is of pivotal importance. The same applies to knowledge and theories about actors behaviour. Of particular interest is research which questions predominant models and contributes to the

10 10 development of explanatory models which give more credence to empirically observable behaviour. Examples of these may be: behaviour linked to limited access and ability to manage large volumes of complex information, and flocking behaviour on financial markets. Relevant areas include the reactions of different actors to formal and informal institutions such as regulations, price signals, cultures and ethics within different companies and market segments and in different market states. Issues affecting access pricing and risk management by different actors may also be included. Studies of household financial behaviour and how the workings of the financial markets affect household wellbeing are welcome. The conditions for operating micro-based financial market research in Sweden may be considered very good, given the major access to comprehensive, longitudinal record data. Knowledge of crises and crisis management. An important sub-area of both the macroeconomic and microeconomic financial market research is understanding the origins, progression and causes of financial crises. In connection with crisis management it is also important to analyse what role regulations can have in contributing to the beginnings of financial crises, how they can help manage them and the extent to which they can be used to prevent or mitigate the impacts of financial crises on the financial markets and/or the real economy. Interesting issues linked to crisis management include: What is meant by effective regulations? What is context-determined based on industrial structure, culture etc? And what may generally apply to incentive structures? What role do national and international regulations play? Knowledge of the progression, causes and impacts of past financial crises on the real economy is of major value in this context. Capital supply for competitive industry. Funding at different stages of both corporate development and innovation processes is highly important to renewal, competitiveness and growth in industry. At this point, it is important to distinguish between early stages of development, expansion stages and more mature stages in corporate development and innovation processes. Above all, it is important to create a deeper understanding of the importance, circumstances and development opportunities for capital supply in early stages of development. To understand the relationships of capital supply to the development of a competitive industry, it is important to clarify key institutional conditions and incentive structures. In this context, it is very important to have analyses of important driving forces and counter forces for a capital supply which stimulate and support a competitive industrial development. Financial innovations. One of the aims of the financial market research effort was to stimulate productivity and value creation in the financial sector. Just as with all other sections of the economy, development and introduction of new innovations is crucial in generating future value creation and profitability. Through groundbreaking and highly relevant research, it is likely that the programme will generate results which can form the basis for new products, services and working methods. However, given that the introduction of complex new financial instruments was an important cause of the current financial crisis, it is at least as important that research into financial innovations also aims to increase understanding of how financial innovations can risk contributing to undesirable impacts on the micro and macro levels. Since the programme is also aimed at developing support for public financial market actors, it is important by way of conclusion to emphasise the significance of research which can contribute to innovative and effective regulation of the financial markets. Research into business actors. This is central to developing increasing efficiency in the Swedish financial sector. Research of this type can extend from studies of the organisation

11 11 and of individual functions by different financial market institutes (banks, insurance companies, fund management companies etc.), to more fundamental issues such as theories regarding productivity in bank operations. Research into the area of corporate governance linked to financial market actors is also of interest in this context. The circumstances for highly relevant, innovative academic research must be regarded as very good given the high degree of interaction between academia and industry which forms the basic concept of the programme. Syntheses and system understanding. Academic research is often characterised by a deep knowledge of distinct phenomena. To ensure that the research conducted is highly relevant and communicated so as to be assimilated by public and private financial market actors, it is important that the applicant milieus are competent in generating syntheses that emphasise and clarify central aspects of more specialised research and explain how various phenomena go together. The nature of the financial market as a blood supply for the development of the real economy also means that applicants must demonstrate competence in analysing and communicating how the financial markets and the real economy go together and affect each other in various contexts and market conditions. Moreover, it should be emphasised that the various areas described above should not be regarded merely as isolated research areas, but that innovative ways of making connections between the various perspectives are encouraged. Finally, the seven areas should not be seen as an exhaustive list. Other research areas and partnerships between academic disciplines which have not traditionally been involved with financial market research are welcome, provided their aim is to generate highly relevant, internationally competitive research.

12 12 Appendix 2. Background to the programme In December 2009, VINNOVA was instructed by the government to design a financial market research programme. The government s rationale and aims of the effort are stated in the October 2008 Research and Innovation Bill and in VINNOVA s government mandate. 1 There are a number of growth aims for this effort: Firstly, the financial markets are of major importance to economic growth. In that context, understanding the various growth mechanisms linked to the impact of the financial markets on corporate expansion investments and innovation investments as well as household consumption patterns is important to growth policy. Secondly, the financial markets play a crucial role in the development of economic conditions. It is therefore important to economic policy to understand how, and by what mechanisms, the development of the financial markets influences business cycles and economic stability. Thirdly, the financial market actors represent industries which themselves have shown major growth and which have large future growth potential. Knowledge and expertise which can strengthen growth and innovation in the various areas of the financial sector is therefore highly important to Sweden s growth. Fourthly, the financial markets have become globalised and are continuing to do so very rapidly. This means transborder financial flows and interdependence have gained a decisive influence over the development of financial markets. Understanding this globalisation has become central to both policymaking and indeed financial market actors. Related to these reasons for growth are a number of grounds linked to the research system for financial market research: A major need for knowledge by financial market and policy actors linked to the globalisation, growth and stability of the financial markets and the relationships between them. Competence supply needs; from trained researchers to students with relevant knowledge of how financial markets work for business and policy development. Joint initiatives towards a critical mass in financial market research which strengthen Sweden as a financial centre and its attractiveness to leading international expertise. Long-term, strong research funding to promote strategic efforts, innovative research and a well-developed exchange of knowledge between researchers and users. The purpose of the Financial Market Research programme is to strengthen the international competitiveness of Swedish financial market research and its relevance to public and private actors in the financial sector. The aims of the programme are to: Establish internationally competitive research milieus which can attract world-leading competence and form national competence centres. 1 A Boost for Research and Innovation (Bill 2008/09:50) s and Government Decision 21/12/09 (II 17) Mandate to the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems to implement a programme of financial research.

13 13 Strengthen the interaction between researchers and public and private financial market actors so as to promote growth and policy development within the area. Enhance the financial sector s supply of superior competence, qualitatively and quantitatively. During 2010, two calls were held under the Financial Market Research programme. In accordance with VINNOVA s government mandate, the lion s share of the allocated budget goes towards funding three research centres which are believed to strengthen the international position of Swedish financial market research. More information about the Centre for Financial Market Research call can be found on The other call was Industrial PhD students in the financial sector.

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