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Chief Ombudsman's Message


As we approach the end of 2012, it is a good time to reflect on what has been happening at FOS over the last 12 months and also look forward to the year ahead.

As our recently published Annual Review highlights, 2011-2012 was another busy year for FOS. We accepted 25,298 disputes - up 24 per cent - and resolved 24,983 accepted disputes - up 31 per cent from the previous year. You can read some highlights from the Annual Review in this edition of The Circular here. You can also access the full review on our website at

FOS has embarked on an ambitious program to improve the services we provide to the individuals and financial services providers who use our dispute services. Our focus remains on how we can improve the timeliness and other aspects of the quality of the dispute services we provide.

An integral part of improving the quality of the services we provide is to more actively engage with our key stakeholders. To this end, we have revamped our engagement with consumer and community organisations and we are enhancing our interactions with our members and their industry and professional bodies.

We have held a number of consumer liaison meetings, which have provided valuable feedback and suggestions on how we can improve our interactions with financial counsellors and clients. It has been made clear to us that it is very important to remain sensitive and flexible in the way we handle disputes involving vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.

Over the last couple of months the FOS Chairman, Michael Lavarch, and I have met with the Councils and Boards of some of the key professional and industry bodies to discuss industry trends and what is happening at FOS, to listen to their views on how to improve what we do.

I appreciate very much the willingness of these organisations to spend the time discussing these important issues with us. I have also met with the CEOs of some of our larger members and plan to meet others in the new year.  

We have also embarked on an extensive qualitative and quantitative study of stakeholder views on FOS and the services we provide. The aim of the research is to better understand our stakeholders so we can improve our engagement and provide a better service. We commenced in early December and we hope to complete the research by April 2013. I consider it important that we regularly benchmark our service performance with our key stakeholders, as part of our commitment to service excellence and continuous improvement.

Best wishes for 2013.


Christmas 2012 graphic