Thursday 23 February 2017

Watchdog calls for 'name and shame' bank law

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

THE Government is considering new proposals to name and shame finance companies that have official complaints made against them.

The move was prompted by Financial Services Ombudsman Bill Prasifka, who argued yesterday that naming banks, brokers and insurance companies would force them to do more to resolve consumer complaints.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance last night said it was considering the changes to bring in a UK-style name and shame law.

The department will make a final decision based on submissions from the public and companies on the plan, the spokesman said.

Mr Prasifka said being able to name errant companies would lead to fewer complaints being made by consumers. He said it was "very disappointing" that the number of complaints about financial products and services had not fallen last year.

The law here meant he was not allowed to name a bank or insurance company even if there was as surge of complaints against it.

This was in contrast to countries like Britain, New Zealand and Australia where the Ombudsman could reveal how many complaints had been received involving different named companies.

"We need this because it will incentivise financial institutions to improve their performance," he said.

Market

The Ombudsman wants to be able to detail the number of complaints he gets that refer to each institution and list the market share of that provider when he publishes statistics every six months.

He called on financial institutions to make a big effort to improve their complaints record and to try to settle disputes with consumers before they reach his office.

Mr Prasifka said his plans to publish complaints records for institutions would give them an incentive to improve their handling of complaints. He is seeking submissions to his proposals before September.

Financial institutions needed to resolve disputes at an earlier stage and more actively engage with consumers in an effort to settle complaints before they reach his office, he said.

Mr Prasifka said the most effective way to achieve this was by publishing and identifying the complaint history and record of individual institutions.

The office's annual report for last year shows that more than 7,200 complaints were received, with the number expected to rise this year.

Irish Independent

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