On the 8th of October 2020, World Ombudsman Day, The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) invites you to join us in a celebration of the ombudsman profession. This is a day devoted to raising awareness of the ombudsman field; the different types of ombudsman offices, the roles ombudsman offices play and the services they provide to the public. This year’s theme is “Ombuds: Unusual name. Important service”. CIFO is participating in a short video featuring other ombudsman services, that the Ombudsman Association and CIFO will publish on Ombuds-day.
So what is an ombudsman? The concept of an ombudsman is believed to be of Swedish origin and is an official appointed to investigate and resolve complaints. There are many types of ombudsman roles covering different aspects of public and private sector interactions with the public. They generally act as an independent, unbiased body to provide a free service, making it easier and more informal than going to court to resolve a complaint. Ombudsman offices are committed to finding a resolution to complaints, but they also identify systemic failings and will seek to influence change in public service or business practices to avoid future complaints. This makes ombudsman offices an important player within the community. An ombudsman office seeks a solution to a complaint using the test of what would be fair and reasonable in the circumstances. This is generally achieved through mediation, conciliation, and investigation. Where the ombudsman office recommends a resolution to a complaint, it will often resolve between the complainant and the service provider, but where necessary the Ombudsman has statutory powers to make a final decision that, if accepted by the complainant, becomes binding upon the provider.
So, what is CIFO? CIFO is the statutory financial ombudsman service in the Channel Islands. CIFO provides an independent dispute-resolution service for unresolved complaints involving financial services provided in or from the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. Any individual consumer or small businesses from anywhere in the world, and some Channel Islands charities can make a complaint about financial advice, banking, insurance, investments, pensions and borrowing. CIFO has the power to obtain complaint information from the customer’s financial services provider. If CIFO upholds the customer’s complaint, CIFO can compel the provider to compensate complainants for up to £150,000 for losses incurred. CIFO deals with complaints that range from the relatively simple, an example of this can be found here, to more complex cases such as here. The range of financial products also demonstrates the diverse nature of CIFO’s work.
In addition to CIFO, the Channel Islands have various bodies that can assist with different types of complaints and may be able to help you identify next steps if your complaint is unresolved. These include the Citizens Advice Bureaus and Trading Standards offices in both Jersey and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Links to these and other local bodies can be found on our useful links and contacts web page.
If you have a complaint against your financial services provider in the Channel Islands and wish to submit a complaint to CIFO for review, please follow the link here.
CIFO Press Release.