The FSOB has published extensive information on its complaints handling processes and findings. (See in particular Bi-Annual Reviews for the 1St and 2nd half of 2010). These reports have given detailed information about the work of the Bureau. To date, the information has been given at an aggregate level and therefore does not reveal the record of particular financial service providers. It has long been the stated position of the FSOB that the public interest would be best served by publishing the record of individual providers.
This document sets out the preliminary thoughts of the Bureau on the form that such disclosure could take. We invite observations from providers and interested parties on our proposal. Such observations will assist the Bureau in refining our position on this matter. Implementation of any proposals to publish the complaints record of individual providers can only be taken after amendment to our legislation.
In the Bi-Annual Reviews, information on findings is given in two forms. First, information is aggregated into three general categories: Investment, Banking and Insurance. Second, within each general category, the information is broken down by product type. All information is aggregated across all providers so that no individual provider is identified. The information provided under each category is the same: total number of complaints, complaints upheld, complaints upheld in part, total amount of compensation awarded. The Annual Report provides case summaries on an anonymous basis – details from the findings are redacted so that neither the complainant nor provider can be identified.
Proposal of the FSOB
It is now proposed that the Bi-Annual review will provide a further break down of the information provided – by financial service provider. Accordingly, for each provider, information will be provided as to: total number of complaints, complaints upheld, complaints upheld in part, total amount of compensation awarded.
In addition, it is deemed useful to have a de minimis provision for reporting of the claims record to ensure that information given has a meaningful statistical basis. Our review of the work of other agencies indicates that this is consistent with best international practice. Again, submissions from providers are welcome as to the setting of any de minimis threshold. (As an example – such a threshold could be set at a minimum number of findings upheld/partly upheld.)
To give an accurate picture of the complaints record of each provider, information about the relative market share of the provider will also be given. Here, submissions from the providers are welcome as to the correct methodology for assessing such market share. Finally, it is proposed that in the Annual Report, case summaries may be provided which identify the financial service provider – in circumstances where there is a compelling public interest to do so. At all times and in all circumstances, the identity of the complainant/s will remain confidential.
Submissions should be made by close of business on 9 September 2011 and should be addressed to Conor Cashman, ‘Publication of Information on Complaints Record of Providers’, Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau, 3rd Floor Lincoln House, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2.
It is proposed that all submissions received will be available on the FSOB website.