Back in the November/ December issue, I boldly rejected the Mayan prediction of the end of the world. I was feeling fairly confident that we would all be around to see another issue of ombudsman news.
But predictions about more complex things can be a difficult business - especially when experience suggests that the only thing you can predict with confidence is a degree of volatility. This ombudsman news finds us in the middle of our consultation on the plans and budget we're forecasting for the next financial year (2013/2014).
Because we are demand led, we have to base our plans on a forecast of the volumes of complaints we are likely to receive. We consult our stakeholders each year on whether our assumptions are reasonable. We can't limit ourselves to forecasting just the total number of cases we're likely to receive.
We also need to try and predict the relative proportions of complaints about different financial products - and the extent to which the parties will cooperate with us in resolving them. It's not straightforward.
Those people who take an interest in our work will know that consumers have referred significantly more cases to us in the current financial year than any of us had forecast. Much, but not all, of this increase has been in payment protection insurance (PPI) cases.
This has meant that 2012/2013 has been particularly challenging for us. We have been building our capacity to deal with the influx of cases at the same time as dealing with the cases themselves.
This challenge shows no sign of abating. Many businesses are still reporting sustained high volumes of complaints, and are themselves working on the assumption that this will continue in the immediately foreseeable future. This means we need to be prepared to deal with the higher volumes of cases that come our way.
But as well as continuing to build our capacity, we will continue to enhance and develop the service we offer. We have mentioned some of our development work in previous issues of ombudsman news - and we believe this work has made a really positive difference this year. So we think that continuing to take this work forward is the right approach.
We're funded by the financial services industry, and the demand for our services is directly affected by the actions of the financial businesses we cover.
So this consultation matters to us. We need to draw on as many perspectives and viewpoints as possible when we're putting our plans and budget together. You can read the full consultation paper on our website - and we look forward to hearing your views.
chief executive and chief ombudsman
ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.
The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.