Over 1,000 consumers from 88 countries around the world brought complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service last year - relating to UK-based financial services and products.
I was reminded to check the extent of our international impact after Kitty Ussher MP, the Economic Secretary at the Treasury, recently outlined her policy on opening up the retail financial services market across Europe. She was addressing a London conference attended by 100 financial ombudsmen and regulators from over 30 countries in six continents.
The government's approach, she said, should be focused on EU consumers, and should aim to give them effective consumer protection - and access to comprehensive redress arrangements - if things go wrong.
She wanted to encourage all member states across Europe to ensure that they have dispute-resolution mechanisms in place as an alternative to their legal systems - and that these arrangements should be comprehensive, effective, accessible and transparent. That, she said, could really make a difference to consumers' confidence in cross-border financial products and services.
And she acknowledged that in the UK - by underpinning consumers' confidence - the Financial Ombudsman Service makes a really important contribution to the success of the UK's financial services sector.
Many of the ombudsman schemes established both in Europe and elsewhere have designed their schemes on the UK model - and others are in the course of doing this. So as well as serving the redress needs of overseas consumers, the Financial Ombudsman Service is acting as a role model for other countries as they develop their consumer redress systems. And as they develop, we in turn can learn - as we certainly did at the recent conference - from their own experience.
And finally - as I highlighted in the last issue of ombudsman news, we have asked Lord Hunt to carry out the second three-yearly independent review of the ombudsman service, focusing on our openness and accessibility to our customers. Lord Hunt is keen to receive feedback and comments from all our users and stakeholders. You can contact him - and find out more - via his review website.
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.