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ombudsman news

issue 67

February / March 2008

ombudsman focus: the ombudsman service board directors and their role

The governing body of the ombudsman service - its board - consists of nine "non-executive" directors. The individual directors do not represent any particular group or sector but are appointed in the public interest, to ensure that the board as a whole can draw on a wide range of experience, knowledge and skills.

Board members are recruited through advertisements in the national press and on our website - and appointments are made by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The appointment of the chairman is also approved by HM Treasury.

Board directors play no part in investigating or deciding the outcome of any individual complaints referred to the ombudsman service. Nor do they become involved in the day-to-day management of the organisation.

The main responsibilities of the board are to:

  • take a strategic overview and ensure the ombudsman service is properly resourced
  • ensure the ombudsman service is able to carry out its functions effectively, impartially and independently - free from any control or influence by those whose disputes we resolve
  • agree the annual budget and recommend it to the FSA for final approval
  • appoint individual ombudsmen, on terms consistent with the ombudsmen's independence
  • appoint the Independent Assessor, who acts on the board's behalf to consider complaints about the level of service provided by the ombudsman service
  • make rules about various aspects of the jurisdictions of the ombudsman service
  • report regularly to the FSA on the way in which the board has carried out its functions.

Full meetings of the board are generally held ten times a year and involve discussion of a wide range of issues. These issues cover matters such as general workload, staffing, external and public relations, accountability, technology and funding. Individual members of the executive team and other staff often attend board meetings, when required, to contribute to discussion on specific topics.

Certain functions and decisions are delegated to the audit committee or to the nomination and remuneration committee, both of which are sub-committees of the main board. A further sub-committee - the quality committee - is currently being set up.

The following new appointments have recently been made to the board and will take effect from 23 February 2008.

Alan Cook CBE

Managing director of Post Office Ltd. From 2002 to 2006 he was the chief executive of National Savings and Investments (NS&I) which signed-up to the Financial Ombudsman Service on a voluntary basis in 2005. Before this, he had a long career with the Prudential, culminating in the post of chief operating officer.

Joe Garner

Group general manager of personal finance services at HSBC since 2004. His previous career was largely in marketing, initially with Procter & Gamble in the UK and Eastern Europe, and then with the Dixons Group. More recently he led the implementation of two major initiatives - to counter mobile phone theft, and to recruit special constables from the retail industry - under the Shopwatch initiative.

John Howard

Currently chairman of the Financial Services Consumer Panel but due to stand down from the panel at the end of March. He is a journalist and broadcaster with extensive experience of consumer issues, having been the principal presenter of BBC Radio 4's You and Yours. He was a member of the Mortgage Code Compliance Board from 1997 to 2004 and is currently a council member of Energywatch. He is also a qualified solicitor.

Elaine Kempson CBE

Professor and director of the Personal Finance Research Centre at the University of Bristol - and an acknowledged expert on retail financial services. She has twice been an independent reviewer of the Banking Code and an adviser, or member, of a wide range of bodies covering financial inclusion, over-indebtedness and access to financial services.

Maeve Sherlock OBE

Currently studying for a PhD at Durham University. From 2003 to 2006 she was chief executive of the Refugee Council, and before that she was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Treasury.

She was also chief executive of the National Council for One Parent Families from 1997 to 2000 and has held a range of non-executive appointments.

These new board members will join the following members of the current board, whose terms of office are continuing.

Sir Christopher Kelly KCB (chair)

Recently appointed the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, he is also chairman of the NSPCC and a board member of the National Consumer Council.

He was formerly permanent secretary at the Department of Health; head of policy at the Department of Social Security; and director of monetary & fiscal policy and director of the budget & public finances at HM Treasury.

Kate Lampard (chair of the audit committee)

An associate of Verita Ltd and a trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK.

A former barrister, she was also chair of Kent and Medway Strategic Health Authority; chair of the Independent Housing Ombudsman Limited; and chair of the Invicta Community Care NHS Trust.

Julian Lee (chair of the quality committee)

A crisis & change management consultant, he is currently chairman of Brighton & Hove City Teaching PCT; a non-executive director of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and Justice of the Peace to the North Sussex Bench.

In the past he has been a non-executive director of the South East Coast Ambulance Trust; chairman, then chief executive, of the Allied Carpets Group and chief executive of the Bricom Group.

Roger Sanders OBE

He is currently the deputy chairman of Helm Godfrey Partners Ltd and a director of Helm Godfrey Benefits (incorporating Roger Sanders Associates).

Before this he was joint chairman of the FSA's Smaller Businesses Practitioner Panel; deputy chairman of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers; a member of the Financial Services Practitioner Panel; a director of the Personal Investment Authority (PIA) Ombudsman Bureau; and a PIA board member.

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ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.