The final issue of the year is always a good opportunity to take stock, and to look ahead to next year. Nobody will be surprised to hear that 2012 has been our busiest year ever. Most people will have seen reports in the media about the dwindling trust between the public and the financial services industry.
Add to this the fact that people are still feeling the pinch - and that many more are prepared to take action if they have a problem - and the upward trend is even less surprising.
And then, of course, there's PPI - which is already the biggest mis-selling scandal in the history of the UK's financial services.
The clean-up operation has scaled up significantly this year to keep pace with demand. We've now received half a million complaints in total about PPI - and so far this year we've handled double the number of cases that we had geared up to receive, following public consultation last year.
Whatever happens, clearly PPI - on top of a growing caseload in other areas - will present us with some major challenges for some time to come.
Looking ahead, we will need to build on our achievements of the past year. Even though we've had to double in size because of the increased volumes of complaints, we've helped more people than ever, and we've still been able to maintain people's trust and confidence in our services.
This is crucial to us, at a time when trust is eroding in so many institutions. We've also set out plans - broadly welcomed by all sides - to allocate costs in a more transparent and fairer way among the larger businesses, while lifting most smaller businesses out of paying case fees altogether. And we'll be continuing to respond to our customers' changing expectations with some more innovative approaches to casework.
I know that a lot of people will have views on our plans for next year - and on the workload we should be expecting to see coming our way. As usual, we will publish the plans - along with our proposed budget - for consultation in January 2013. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
chief executive and chief ombudsman
ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.
The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.