The Irish Times view on the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman reports: Actions, not words

Banks, insurers and other financial service providers get it right more often than wrong in their dealings with consumers

The latest report of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman reminds us that banks, insurers and other financial service providers get it right more often than wrong in their dealings with consumers.

Almost two-thirds of the 199 complaints adjudicated upon in the first five months of this year were not upheld.

That is good news.

The ombudsman also notes that there is an increasing trend among financial service providers to apply decisions handed down by the ombudsman to other customers in the same position – even where those customers have not complained. This too is welcome, though one might argue that it is the least you would expect of a responsible and trusted service provider.


However, the report also paints a picture of an industry that appears still to struggle at times with the concept it can be in the wrong at all or that it has obligations to its customers, not just the other way around.

Tracker mortgages remain firmly in the spotlight over four and a half years after the Central Bank ordered all lenders to conduct a full review of their loan books and act on any shortcomings that emerged.

They dominate this fourth report of the ombudsman. And he discloses that 1,200 complaints in this area alone remain to be decided upon.

The ombudsman also draws attention to incorrect reporting of information on customers to credit ratings registers, noting that this can have very serious consequences for the people concerned.

“What can be even more worrying is the unwillingness of some financial services providers to accept when they have made mistakes and their refusal or neglect to correct the record,” the ombudsman, Ger Deering, notes.

Bankers continue to lobby for an end to salary thresholds that they say deprive them of the chance to employ and retain the best talent. After every transgression and in every Oireachtas committee appearance, they profess that lessons have been learned and that mistakes will not be repeated.

The ombudsman’s reports suggests bank executives have work yet to do in this regard and that they need to realise it is actions, not words that will reassure.