From CompliNEWS | Financial Service Intelligence Watch
Financial Advisory Ombud returns over R39m to consumers, tackles complex property syndication disputes
The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Ombud, a key player in dispute resolution within the financial sector, has made substantial strides in the past financial year, returning more than R39 million to consumers, as reported by the Mail & Guardian. In the recently published annual report for 2022–23, the Ombud’s office highlighted its achievements and challenges.
During the period covered by the report, the Ombud received a total of 6 483 complaints within its jurisdiction, of which 4 796 were successfully resolved. Approximately 29% of these cases reached a settlement, resulting in a collective compensation pay-out of R39 133 121 to consumers.
One noteworthy aspect is that, in the past year, the Ombud’s office did not find it necessary to issue any determinations. Instead, respondents and consumers collaborated to amicably resolve their disputes, leading to successful outcomes without formal determinations.
However, the report also brought to light a significant challenge faced by the Ombud’s office, as detailed in the Mail & Guardian’s coverage. Specifically, the office has encountered over 1 000 complaints related to property syndication, with cases spanning from 2009–2014. These property syndication disputes have proven exceptionally intricate and contentious. The Financial Services Tribunal has set aside multiple determinations on these matters, and the office has engaged in protracted litigation in the High Court, with limited success.
Given the complexity and extended nature of these property syndication-related issues, there is a need to re-evaluate the office’s role in their resolution. The report underscores the importance of addressing these challenges while continuing to fulfil its mandate of resolving financial disputes and safeguarding consumer interests.
The Mail & Guardian’s coverage provides insights into the achievements and complexities surrounding the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Ombud’s work in the financial sector.