International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes


a fundamental principle for a financial services ombudsman

Fundamental principle

Financial services businesses should be required to tell customers about the financial services ombudsman scheme.

A financial services ombudsman scheme should:

  • provide comprehensive information on its own website and in other appropriate ways
  • be easily available and accessible to complainants (without any cost barrier)
  • communicate clearly
  • make appropriate provision for vulnerable complainants.

Effective approaches

Financial services businesses

Financial services businesses are required to tell customers in writing about the financial services ombudsman scheme:

  • on the financial services business’s website, if it has one
  • at the point of sale
  • in contracts
  • if the customer makes a complaint
  • in its final written decision on a complaint.

The financial services business’s final written decision on the complaint includes details of:

  • how to contact the financial services ombudsman scheme
  • any time limits that apply.

Financial services ombudsman scheme website

The financial services ombudsman scheme has its own website showing, at least:

  • the scope of its jurisdiction
  • its enquiry and complaint handling processes
  • its powers
  • the status of its decisions
  • what information is kept confidential, and what may be published
  • its most recent annual report
  • any current consultations
  • the outcome of any recent consultations.

Other sources of information

The financial services ombudsman scheme ensures that information is also readily available to potential complainants who do not have access to the internet. Depending on national circumstances, this may involve the ombudsman scheme making information available through:

  • consumer advice organisations
  • local consumer advice centres
  • public libraries
  • local authorities
  • other places where consumers are used to receiving information
  • elected representatives
  • the media.


The financial services ombudsman scheme is easily available and accessible to complainants for submission of complaints:

  • online
  • by post
  • by telephone.

In any country where the predominant culture requires it, the financial services ombudsman scheme is easily available and accessible to complainants who need face-to-face meetings.

Complainants are able to approach the financial services ombudsman directly, without having to go through any other person/organisation — save for any requirement to complain first to the financial services business.

The financial services ombudsman scheme:

  • ensures that all its communications (including its letters and its decisions/recommendations)
    are in clear and jargon-free language
  • makes appropriate provision for consumers who are particularly vulnerable because of disability, age, language, literacy or other reasons.

Free for complainants

The financial services ombudsman scheme is free of charge for complainants. 

Access to court

A complainant can choose to take a complaint to court instead of the financial services ombudsman scheme.  No agreement concluded before the complaint materialised requires the complainant to go to the ombudsman scheme instead of the court.

© Copyright INFO Network 2007 - 2023