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ombudsman news

issue 86

June/July 2010

ombudsman news "Q&A" page

featuring questions that businesses and advice workers have raised recently with the ombudsman's technical advice desk - our free, expert service for professional complaints-handlers.

In issue 83 of ombudsman news (February/March 2010), you mentioned new arrangements that were replacing the way the ombudsman service liaises more formally with the financial services industry. Are you able to provide an update on this-

The newly-established industry steering-group, set up under these new arrangements, met for the first time in April and then in June. This high-level steering group is chaired by our chairman, Sir Christopher Kelly, and it discusses high-level strategic issues relating to complaints and the ombudsman service.

It comprises the following senior executives from key financial services institutions:

  • Deanna Oppenheimer, chief executive, Barclays UK retail banking
  • Helen Weir, group executive director - retail, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Brian Hartzer, chief executive officer, RBS UK retail banking
  • Keith Morris, chairman and chief executive, Sabre Insurance
  • John Pollock, group executive director (protection and annuities), Legal & General
  • David Richardson, managing director (life and health), Swiss Re
  • David Stewart, chief executive, Coventry Building Society
  • Simon Hudson, chief executive, Tenet Group

A new wider cross-sector industry panel has also been established, to replace the three sectoral liaison-groups for banking, insurance and investment that provided a channel for more formal communication between the ombudsman and the industry over the last few years.

We keep in touch regularly with the industry panel through a fortnightly email newsletter and a series of events, including focused 'meet the ombudsman' sessions.

After reviewing the structure for liaising more formally with consumer groups, we have set up a forum for representatives from a wide range of consumer bodies to discuss complaints-handling and ombudsman issues.

I heard that you have recently appointed a new independent assessor. Can you tell me more about this-

Our board recently appointed Linda Costelloe Baker OBE as the new independent assessor, to succeed Michael Barnes CBE, who retired at the end of May 2010 after eight years in the post.

The role of the independent assessor is to carry out a final review of the level of service provided by the Financial Ombudsman Service, in cases where a user of our service has already complained to us - and had their complaint reviewed - but remains dissatisfied.

Linda Costelloe Baker was the Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman for six years and the Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance for three years, following ten years as a management consultant specialising in service quality, complaints handling and organisational design and development.

She was recruited following an advertisement in the national press and a selection process involving non-executive board directors of the Financial Ombudsman Service and an independent public-interest observer.

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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.