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We have published a model complaint-handling procedure describing how financial services providers should handle complaints - promptly and fairly – and tell complainants about the ability to appeal to CIFO and how to reach us. Our service is only for those complaints that are not resolved directly by the provider of the financial services; most complaints are resolved at this stage which benefits both the provider and the customer as it is quicker and can actually improve their ongoing relationship. Customer loyalty has been shown to improve in response to a successful resolution of a problem.


The guidance on the model complaint-handling procedure is available on CIFO’s website at www.ci-fo.org, along with other resources such as other policies and guidance, quarterly and annual reports on our work and case studies. These are published as part of our commitment to transparency in the performance of CIFO’s important public interest mandate.


In resolving a complaint, CIFO will resolve each case by the most appropriate means. Usually CIFO case handlers will try to mediate and agree a resolution between the parties. If this does not resolve the matter, CIFO will investigate the case and has powers to request information. Once CIFO issues a


determination and the complainant accepts it, it becomes legally binding. CIFO can require a financial services provider to pay compensation up to a maximum of £150,000.


The benefits of an ombudsman service are not just experienced in the individual complaints considered. The feedback we provide from our work can also contribute to the broader financial consumer protection framework in the future. Complaints can be an early warning system for developing issues, of interest to regulators and lawmakers. There is also an opportunity for financial service providers to identify where changes to products or work policies and practices could avoid future complaints. Finally, our feedback can also identify areas for financial literacy and education to help the general public successfully avoid future problems. Just as in health care, it is always preferable to prevent a problem than to treat it. In an ideal future, the Ombudsman role would hardly be needed as industry and regulatory practices evolve and anticipate the issues that can arise for consumers and consumers themselves are able to make informed financial decisions. Given how dynamic and complex the financial services industry is, that day is unlikely to be soon but our work and the feedback we give strives toward that goal.


More information on CIFO is available at www.ci-fo.org or


By phone: 01534 748610 or 01481 722218 or By Email: enquiries@ci-fo.org.


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