principle 4: effectiveness
Effective approaches to fundamental principles: part 5
Effectiveness is a fundamental principle
which members should aspire to comply with, so far as it is within their control
5.1 There should be:
• a clear definition of what constitutes a complaint
• clear obligations on financial services businesses to deal with complaints fairly and promptly.
5.2 A financial services ombudsman scheme should:
• have a flexible and informal process (where parties do not need professional advisers)
• have skilled decision-makers
• be properly resourced.
that have worked in some countries, though there may be other ways.
Obligations for financial services businesses
5.3 What constitutes a complaint is clear, and documented. For example:
• whether it can be any oral/written expression of dissatisfaction
• whether it has to be in writing.
5.4 Financial services businesses within the financial services ombudsman scheme’s jurisdiction are required to:
• have an accessible, effective and fair internal complaints process, which is published
• issue a written response to a complaint, with reasons, within a specified time
• tell complainants that, if they are still dissatisfied, they can go to the ombudsman scheme;
• have a single person with overall responsibility for the handling of complaints
• respond promptly to communications from the ombudsman scheme
• provide information and documents requested by the ombudsman scheme
• comply promptly with the ombudsman scheme’s decisions.
Informal and flexible process
5.5 The financial services ombudsman scheme has an informal and flexible process, so that neither party needs a lawyer or advisor (though parties are not prohibited from using a lawyer/adviser if they want to).
5.6 The financial services ombudsman scheme:
• handles enquiries, to resolve some problems before they turn into full-blown disputes
• takes an active role in deciding what evidence is required and calling for it
• obtains expert reports when these are necessary
• uses informal mediation to reach a fair settlement, where this is possible and appropriate
• issues a formal decision in complaints that are not settled.
Information, advice and training
5.7 The financial services ombudsman scheme assists early resolution of complaints by:
• publishing details of its approach to common complaints
• giving advice to consumers and financial services businesses
• helping train consumer advice centres and financial services business complaint departments.
Knowledge and skills
5.8 Financial services ombudsman scheme decision-makers:
• have the necessary knowledge and skills in resolving complaints
• have a general understanding of law
• have knowledge of relevant financial services
• are appropriately trained.
Financial services ombudsman resources
5.9 The financial services ombudsman scheme is:
• adequately staffed
• adequately funded
so that complaints can be effectively and expeditiously investigated and resolved.
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