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ombudsman news

issue 75

January/February 2009

taking forward the ombudsman's
accessibility and transparency agenda

To help us with our ongoing plans to develop and implement our approach to accessibility and transparency, we have set up a discussion group made up of financial services practitioners and representatives from consumer organisations.

The group has no formal decision-making role but it provides a valuable forum for discussion and liaison. Members of the group take part in a personal capacity rather than formally "representing" any particular business, constituency or interest group. The aim is that the group will allow us to draw on the diverse views and experience of as wide as possible a cross-section of the retail financial-services sector and the consumer advice and advocacy world.

Issues the group has discussed include:

  • the potential barriers that might discourage some consumers from bringing complaints to us (ranging from mental health problems to time-limits for bringing complaints);
  • our liaison arrangements with the industry and consumer organisations;
  • our outreach and awareness-raising work with those who are less engaged; and
  • the practicalities involved in our proposals to publish complaints-data about individual named businesses.

We are grateful to the members of group - listed below - for their time and effort in discussing these key areas of work with us.

Carolyn Bedwell

customer experience director, Legal and General Assurance Society Ltd

Carolyn joined Legal and General in 1983 and has held various operational and change-management roles within the company, leading up to her appointment as customer experience director in 2006. In this role she has oversight of Legal and General's 'Customer Experience Programme' and "Treating Customer Fairly" outcomes, as well as of the Association of British Insurers' (ABI) "Customer Impact" scheme. Carolyn is a member of the ABI Consumer Strategy Committee.

Monica Coke

minority-business development policy manager, Advantage West Midlands

Monica represents the West Midlands Minority-Ethnic Business Forum that works alongside Advantage West Midlands (the regional development agency) and a range of private/public-sector partners. The Forum is an independent, strategic body covering the interests of minority-ethnic managed/owned businesses across the West Midlands.

Monica sits on various boards nationally - including the Caribbean Board, under the auspices of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - and she is a governor at City College, Birmingham. She is involved with a wide range of community projects, including the Birmingham Ishango Science Club, which works to raise the educational achievements of African-Caribbean young people.

Jonathan Cornell

managing director, Hamptons International

Jonathan has been working in financial services for almost 15 years. Initially he worked for NatWest Life and NatWest Mortgage Services as a consultant and then as a sales manager. He joined Hamptons in 2002 as a consultant and was appointed managing director in August 2008.

Sue Edwards

head of consumer policy, Citizens Advice

Sue has been working in the advice sector since 1990. She joined the Citizens Advice Social Policy Department in 2000 and has written a number of reports about personal debt.

Yvonne Gallagher

chief executive, Money Advice Scotland

Yvonne has been involved in credit and debt matters since 1987 and has been chief executive of Money Advice Scotland since April 1997. An advocate of standards and qualifications, her desire is to see the money-advice field in Scotland move towards Institute status. She was involved in developing the statutory accreditation scheme for money advisers under the Debt Arrangement and Attachment Act.

Yvonne is a well-respected author on issues relating to credit and debt, and she broadcasts regularly on national TV and radio. She also writes the money advice column for Scotland on Sunday's "Money Desk" and she contributes regularly to other publications.

Tony Hetherington

financial journalist and member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel

Tony has worked as a financial journalist for ITN and Times Newspapers, and now writes for the Mail on Sunday about readers' financial problems. He is also a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, a statutory body that advises the Financial Services Authority.

Peter Melling

director of retail external risk, Royal Bank of Scotland

Peter began his career as a solicitor in private practice, specialising in litigation and advocacy. He moved into retail financial services in 1989 and since then he has worked across a range of areas, most recently specialising in plastic-cards and card-fraud work. He has headed up RBS's retail external-risk team since July 2007.

Pete Sowden

head of service quality, Yorkshire Building Society

Pete has been with the Yorkshire Building Society for 30 years, holding a variety of roles - mostly in customer-facing parts of the business. His current role as head of service quality includes responsibility for business-wide service delivery and customer experience, service improvement, and complaints-handling operations. Given his "customer champion" role, Pete is heavily involved in the Society's response to the FSA's "Treating Customers Fairly" initiative. Pete was awarded the title of "National Customer Service Professional of the Year" for 2003/04 (through the Customer Management National Customer Service Awards).

Bill Taylor

independent financial adviser

Bill has been an independent financial adviser (IFA) in the Southend area since 1986 and has spent all his working life in financial advice. He began his career with the Prudential as a home-service agent before moving to the Co-operative Society, where he progressed to management. He subsequently joined UKPI as a life inspector, later being invited to join a local brokerage. Since 1997 he has run his own IFA practice as part of the Ashley Law Group. Since 2005 he has also been a council member of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers.

Doug Taylor

personal finance campaign manager, Which-

Doug co-ordinates the diverse strands of the Which- personal finance campaigns and acts as a media spokesman on these issues. He currently sits on a wide range of financial working-groups including: the FSA's Retail Savings Regulatory Strategy Group; the EU Consumer Consultative Group on Financial Services; the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority's consumer representative group; and the Pensions Regulator's Investment Governance Group. Before joining Which-, Doug was deputy chief executive of the British Society for Rheumatology.

Jane Vass

financial services policy adviser, Age Concern England

Jane Vass has been the financial services policy adviser at Age Concern England since 2006. She was previously an independent consumer consultant and writer, specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint. In this capacity she undertook research, including reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on savings and investments for low-income consumers. She worked for the Consumers' Association (Which-) from 1983 to 1993 and is a former member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel.

There is further information on our website about our accessibility and transparency work, including:

image of ombudsman news

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.