When people think of regulated products they usually think of drugs or electronics.
Drugs come in two forms – prescription drugs that can only be sold by a pharmacist on foot of a prescription from a doctor in general practice and over the counter drugs (OTC) which can be sold directly to consumers.
Irrespective of the type of drug, there is a comprehensive regime in place to ensure that the products will do what they claim to do, that all side effects are clearly explained, all ingredients are properly manufactured and free from outside contamination and safe for consumers to use provided they follow the recommended dose.
Most electronic products contain a regulatory mark provided by a main regulatory body such as the UK Kite mark. The regulatory mark informs a consumer that the product was built by the manufacturer and sent to an independent testing laboratory to uncover and isolate any unsafe issues. This test is usually very rigorous, time consuming, and expensive.
Earning the mark is like a badge of honour that confirms it is safe to be used as designed.
Non-regulated drugs or electronics may not be fit for purpose and be totally ineffective or downright dangerous.
Providers of financial products are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland which regulates the selling of insurance and financial products sold to consumers.
Financial brokers who advise on a range of financial products are required to tell consumers, when a non-regulated product is recommended, that the consumer does not have the protection of the Financial Ombudsman or the benefit of the financial compensation scheme.
This ruling may give the impression that non-regulated products are somehow inferior or more risky than regulated products but while it is true that some non-regulated products may be risky, not all are.
Small self-administered pension schemes regulated by the Pensions Board are technically, a non-regulated product.
A home loan sold to a consumer is a regulated product whereas a commercial mortgage sold to a business is not, while an investment in a property syndicate falls outside regulation altogether.