Financial Services Ombudsman – We Want More!

Wow, OO has struck a nerve.  Just a few days back I was “worried” about possibly “polarizing” the ombudsman profession  and now there’s  a pouring in of responses to the UK FSO post from yesterday.  I’m still going to point out the contrast of how other countries handle “complaints” and the US method where “legal due process” is “the only way” currently.  We need independent, fair, neutral, trustworthy ombuds offices nationwide, perhaps regional offices; and we must “learn from mistakes” from the past once and for all.  This is needed because “government” and “Corporate America” continue to have Enron and WorldCOM “integrity” issues that persist evidently.  Remember, Enron’s issues “peaked” in 2001, but the legacy of poor accountability goes back to 1996 or even earlier.  While the US government currently struggles to develop a financial model to solve the “economic crisis” we should move towards “catching up” by adopting the European Ombudsman business models here in the USA.  For all of you that had great contributions and links, it’s better we put it here than in comments.

From Switzerland’s Banking Ombudsman

Canada Financial Services Ombudsman Complaints “Slightly Up”

Ombudsman Banking Services & Investments (OBSI) News

Not all “comments” are posted, links most relevant to the topic are here and in keeping with ethical practices no links are posted that name financial institutions and complaint specifics.  The main “thrust” here is for the US to catch up, establish offices and separate “legal due process” out as the final step with a new ombuds office to be the initial consumer complaint step in direct collaboration with the “lending institution” towards a solution.  By example, one ombudsman financial services office in the news is determining that about 35% of consumer complaints have a well founded basis and the financial institution is “accepting” the results of the investigation and “correcting mistakes”.  At the same time between 25-35% of consumer complaints have NO basis and are dismissed yet archived for future ombuds office case reference only, per ethical requirements.  The remainder of cases proceed to formal legal channels at the government level and are pending.  Most likely “forced” arbitration or mediation will be the final phase as ordered by the “state” with final authority.

Again, there is a petition circulating as written by Kenneth Cloke and his Center for Dispute Resolution.  His leadership with the Obama Administration is to establish what “we” all see as a necessary step to bridge the gap in our US system between consumers, government and the financial services industry.  Please “digitially sign” the petition especially if you are part of the ombudsman profession.


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