While doing research for an engagement I stumbled across this video with the Financial Services Ombudsman in the UK. Mr. Walter Merricks CBE (CBE is Commander British Empire awarded by the Queen) Chairman, Chief Ombudsman for the FSO (Financial Services Ombudsman). This is a well done interview getting at the heart of consumer financial services issues and what his office was experiencing in mid-year 2008. Dare I say “we” in the US could use such an office.
Of specific interest is the recognized coordinated efforts his office makes, or omits if the situation is underway, as other judicial or FSA (Financial Services Authority) offices have already undertaken investgations. I can’t help but think “what if” the US had in place such an office, even state by state, for specific queries with “brokers and dealers” for securities, venture capital, mortgage brokers and other “lenders” in place. To date there is no federal government initiative (that I’ve discovered) that would be comprehensive so as to address nationwide finanical services issues in the USA. In fact the only “recourse” for consumers is straight to their government legal offices and in 2007 and 2008 President Bush’s administration “halted” Attorneys General and District Attorneys in all states from opening cases in fraudulent lending practices. By example, in 2004 I was directly involved in a project where the State of Florida would not “touch” a local bank and venture capital company that had been the subject of multiple complaints. It wasn’t until I advised the principals in the project to contact the SEC (they regulate Regulation D Private Placements) that we discovered over 550 complaints had already been filed and were in the US Attorneys General Office for “due process”. In such circumstances a Financial Services Ombudsman could have helped take on “the case load” and completed preliminary investigation and advised complainants about their options. Today, alerting over burdened government offices to the now cascading financial contractions and collapses we now are having is futile. Dare we hope Eric Holder is listening?
Enjoy this 10 minute insightful video.