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from Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman

Hello and welcome to the Financial Ombudsman Service. I’m Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman, and I’d like to tell you a little about what we do and how we can help you.

If you have a problem with your bank, insurance company or a financial business and you can’t sort it out with them yourself – then we may be able to help. We were set up by parliament to do this – so you don’t have to pay to use our service.

Last year over a million people got in touch with us with their concerns and worries – so we know a lot about what causes complaints and how best to resolve them.

As with any kind of dispute, it’s always best to try and sort things out as early as possible. So if you do have a financial problem, you should talk to the business you think is responsible as soon as possible. Give them a chance to sort things out. Businesses have eight weeks to try and sort things out for you.

If you’re not sure how to get started, or if you don’t know who to complain to, get in touch with us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

If you and the business can’t sort things out, then we may be able to get involved and look into things for you.

We’ll need some details from you to check that your problem is one we can look at. We’ll do this by asking you to fill in our complaint form. You can download this from our website, under the "how to complain" section. Or if you’d prefer we can help you fill it out over the phone.

We’re able to sort out many complaints in just a few months. But how long it takes to deal with your complaint will depend on how complex it is and whether we need more information. In some cases – for example PPI – it can take over a year.

We’re completely independent and impartial. This means we look at both sides of the story and weigh up all the facts to decide what we think is fair and reasonable. There are always two sides to every complaint, so we give both sides the chance to tell us their side of the story, in their own words. Because we’re not a court of law, you won’t need to stand up and argue your case – we’ll be able to investigate your complaint just from the papers that are sent in and by talking to you and the business over the phone.

Our role is to find ways of settling individual disputes. Our job isn’t to fine or punish businesses – that’s the job of the regulator.

So if, when we’ve investigated your complaint thoroughly, we find that the business has acted fairly, we’ll tell you why we think that’s the case. But if we find that the business has done something wrong – and we believe you’ve lost out as a result of that – we have the power to tell them to put things right for you.

image: Natalie Ceeney, chief executive and chief ombudsman

video-welcome from chief ombudsman