Three months into the job - and I'm still finding it hugely helpful, as I continue familiarising myself with the work of the ombudsman service, to learn what our stakeholders think about us and what changes they would like to see. So far the feedback has been very positive.
Over the past month I have had the opportunity to meet many more stakeholders, at a wide range of formal - and not-so-formal - meetings and events. These events have included a fascinating day spent with one of the major insurance companies, being 'walked through' all aspects of their process - from sales to claims. It was particularly encouraging to see the importance they attach to resolving customer complaints.
I also travelled to Scotland this week where, at Money Advice Scotland's annual conference, I gave my first speech since becoming chief ombudsman. It was a great opportunity to meet a number of the delegates, including front-line money advisers, credit unions, debt collectors and insolvency practitioners. In the Q and As section of this month's ombudsman news we provide an update about the new arrangements we have set up, covering the way the ombudsman service liaises formally with both the financial services industry and the consumer world.
Just a few weeks ago we published our annual review covering the financial year 2009/2010. I said there that one of my priorities was to re-examine the operating model that has worked so successfully over the ombudsman's first ten years. We are now operating on a far larger scale than ever envisaged at the outset. So I need to make sure we have a sound structure in place to support whatever fresh challenges the next decade may require of us. Over the coming months I will be discussing my plans in more detail with our stakeholders - and looking at how best we can invest to ensure we remain "fit for purpose", whatever the future may hold.
This week marked a significant milestone at the ombudsman service, as we received our millionth case. And as ever, ombudsman news provides a snapshot of just a few of the cases we handle every day.
We focus in this issue on cases involving claims made under the Consumer Credit Act, where we frequently encounter common misunderstandings - on the part of businesses as well as consumers. We look too at some recent recession-related insurance cases. And we provide a handy selection of some of the ombudsman facts and figures we are most-frequently asked about. This information is - in effect - the annual review in a "nutshell". I think it's a fascinating read in itself and I hope it will serve as a "taster", tempting those of you who have not yet done so to take a look at the full review.
chief executive and chief ombudsman
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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.