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Under the spotlight - Michael Ridgway

 

Michael Ridgway is the Executive General Manager of the FOS General Resolution Group. The General Resolution Group handles disputes at the early stages of the resolution process, up to the point of referral for decision-making. The main focus of this group is resolving disputes by agreement.

The General Resolution Group includes a dedicated financial difficulty team that handles all financial difficulty disputes end to end.

Michael’s career has been in dispute investigation and resolution. Upon finishing university Michael decided not to undertake a traditional career in the law and he worked for a number of years with the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV), as well as at Legal Aid Victoria and ASIC, before joining the Financial Industry Complaints Service.

How long have you been at FOS?

I’ve been at FOS and one of its predecessor schemes, the Financial Industry Complaints Service (FICS) since 2004.

I originally came to FICS to set up and oversee the conciliation function.

Tell us about your family

I’m married with two children. My wife also works in dispute resolution, so we have some interesting discussions and debates – always applying the principles of alternative dispute resolution, of course!

What’s been your greatest achievement in the past 18 months?

Over the last 18 months we’ve experienced and successfully managed a lot of changes, both at FOS and in the financial services industry. We’ve recruited, trained and cross-skilled many new staff in the General Resolution Group and across FOS, improved our case handling processes, and enhanced our organisational governance. It’s been really pleasing how well these changes have been put into effect, particularly given the climate of high dispute numbers during this time.

What do you see as being the biggest challenge in the future?

Continuing to effectively manage a high number of disputes and dealing effectively with both internal and external changes, as well as embedding the improvements we have made.

What’s one change you would like to see in financial services during your career?

The utopian vision is that there would be no need for an organisation like FOS! That’s a challenging one but I think it would be good to see a sustained decrease in dispute numbers, and financial services providers continuing to put in place effective internal dispute resolution processes, and improving communication with consumers. I think we will also continue to see more changes and take-up of online technology in dispute resolution, which may have lots of potential to assist in resolving disputes more quickly.

What motivates you?

I really like solving problems and issues for people. I’m passionate about the principles that underpin alternative dispute resolution: people having constructive conversations with one another, talking about a problem and looking at the options for how it can be dealt with and creative problem solving.

What is the General Resolution Group’s key focus for the next 12 months?

Our key focus is in line with the FOS strategic plan – continuing to increase our service and access for financial services providers and consumers, getting on the phone more, ensuring disputes are progressing as quickly as possible, and continuing to improve the quality of our work.

What do you like doing outside of work?

Spending time with the family. Going for bike rides and runs. Going for walks with the family and getting down to the beach or out of town whenever we can.

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