FF publishes bill to bring greater transparency to complaints record of financial institutions

Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson – Carrigaline based Michael McGrath TD – has published a Bill empowering the Financial Services Ombudsman to publish and report upon complaints, investigations and adjudications against regulated financial service providers.

Deputy McGrath stated, “It has long been the stated position of the Financial Services Ombudsman that the public interest would be best served by publishing the complaints record of individual financial service providers. However, the existing legislation does not permit such information to be published. I very much support the Ombudsman’s view and the legislation I am publishing today seeks to achieve the transparency that is so manifestly in the public interest.

“My decision to write and publish this Bill was motivated by two issues.  Firstly, we have learned at enormous cost that relying on our financial institutions to provide accurate information on their performance and practices is unwise.  We need to ensure that the public has access to accurate information about how financial service providers are treating customers and how they behave when their shortcomings are pointed out.

“Secondly, it is vital that public confidence in the Irish financial system be restored.  It is my view that greater transparency about the performance and behaviour of individual institutions is a basic pre-requisite to achieve this.

“The Ombudsman received over 7,200 complaints in 2010 and this figure is expected to have been exceeded in 2011 when the final numbers become available. I have no doubt but publishing the complaints record of financial service providers will motivate them to clean up their act and improve the service provided to customers.

“Last July, the Ombudsman initiated a round of public consultation on the publication of information on the complaints record of financial service providers. The Ombudsman pointed out that the publication of such information would require an amendment to the legislation which established the Ombudsman.

“I am therefore providing the necessary legislative amendment and I would call on the Minster for Finance to put aside politics-as-usual and take forward this Bill when the Dáil resumes in January.

“Transparency and improved customer accountability are not party political issues – if the Government is serious about welcoming constructive opposition, they will take forward and enact this straightforward piece of legislation without delay.”

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