It has been six months since Deborah Battell became the Banking Ombudsman. She took over the reins at a time of economic turmoil. The office was dealing with an unprecedented caseload at this time.
The second half of 2008 saw a dramatic rise in the number of complaints coming to my office, and in January 2009 we took in a record number of complaints and enquiries.
The main event of the past few months has been an influx of complaints about investment advice, almost all from investors in two funds provided by ING (NZ) Ltd.
From a year packed with significant events and trends, this newsletter provides a few of the highlights.
On 1 July 2007, the Banking Ombudsman scheme will have been in operation for fifteen years. It will not only be our fifteenth birthday but will be a very special occasion of another kind.
Since the reviews of our procedures earlier this year, we have been working on measures to cut down the time taken to resolve complaints.
Although the Banking Ombudsman’s investigative process is regularly examined by an independent reviewer, this was the first comprehensive review of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme.
There has been a good deal of publicity in recent weeks about banks’ lending practices. It has been said that banks are increasing their customers’ credit card limits unnecessarily.
The Code of Banking Practice is due for review this year, and the New Zealand Bankers’ Association will shortly be calling for public submissions to assist in the review.
Complaints to the Banking Ombudsman are still going down. It is sometimes said that the complaints business is the only one in the world where the objective is to make one's own position redundant.
After a year which started with an influx of complaints to be investigated, it is pleasing to report that the number of complaint investigations commenced in November 2003 was the lowest for more than two years.
The first half of 2003 has seen a continuation of the 2002 influx of complaints about investment advice and investment products.