Where is my money? Qualitative insights of consumer vulnerability from bank customers

  • Trine Koch de Bragança Ferreira (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


This report aims to find answers regarding consumer vulnerability concerning financial services in the housing market in Denmark, Portugal and Switzerland. More precisely, it aims to understand potential consumer vulnerability through the mismatch between banks and credit institutions' products and demands and people's understanding of the financial product they are contracting. This research aims to define the existing measures of consumer vulnerability concerning financial services. This will be done through a literature review, followed by a questionnaire-based field study conducted to understand the building blocks of consumer vulnerability in the financial service sector. To achieve the proposed objective, an empirical study was performed in Denmark, Portugal, and Switzerland focusing on a diversified profile of participants. The research criteria emphasised the need to create a socio-demographically balanced sample, including gender, age, country of residence, and educational and income level. Consumer vulnerability is a condition and not a status. All consumers can at any time become vulnerable due to a certain situation or feeling like grief, a feeling of unease or even due to temporary disability. The banking relationship consists of two parties, the consumer on one side and the service provider on the other, which in this case is the bank's employee. Since the bank employee has in-depth knowledge of the financial product, this causes an asymmetric information level between the employees and the consumers, which could cause damage to the consumer. In the financial service sector context, how the consumer thinks, feels and behaves is important as the personal perception can make consumers feel temporarily vulnerable. A total of 222 Danish, Portuguese and Swiss citizens participated in the study. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected by adopting a mixed methodology. Among the most vulnerable areas identified were 1) the lack of information and transparency, 2) lack of understanding of the banking system, 3) lack of satisfaction with the given budget, and 4) overwhelmed by the information or choices given to them by the banks. Furthermore, although there were some differences in the policies of banks in these three countries, differences in responses from all three countries were not significant. As such, they were facing similar vulnerabilities.
Date of Award20 Dec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorSusana Silva (Supervisor) & Paulo Alexandre de Oliveira Duarte (Co-Supervisor)


  • Consumer vulnerability
  • Purchase of residential property
  • Homeowners
  • Mortgage
  • Banks
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Denmark
  • Portugal
  • Switzerland


  • Mestrado em Gestão

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