Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has appointed the first Ombud Council board and council Chief Ombud, independent consultant Eileen Meyer, giving effect to the new financial ombud system in terms of the Financial Sector Regulation Act.
Meyer will serve in her position as a transitional measure, until a full-time Chief Ombud is appointed, and to enable the Ombud Council to commence operations. It also enables the board to commence the process to appoint a full-time Chief Ombud.
The objective of the Ombud Council is to assist in ensuring financial customers have access to, and are able to use affordable, effective, independent and fair alternative dispute resolution processes for complaints about financial institutions in relation to financial products, financial services and services provided by financial infrastructures.
The council consists of chairperson Deanne Wood, vice chairperson advocate Dikeledi Chabedi; and directors Emmanuel Lekgau, Silindile Kubheka, Adam Horowitz, Charmaine Soobramoney; and Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) acting commissioner Katherine Gibson.
The current acting FSCA commissioner will serve on the board of directors until Unathi Kamlana assumes office as the recently appointed full-time commissioner.
The Ombud Council will have oversight powers over both the statutory and industry ombuds, including the offices of the pension fund adjudicator, the ombud for financial services providers and the credit ombud.
The council will also have oversight powers over the ombudsmans for long-term insurance, short-term insurance and banking services, as well as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange ombud.
The Ombud Council will recognise industry schemes, set enhanced governance and accountability requirements and harmonise and strengthen standards of practice for each ombud scheme through rule-making and enforcement powers.
The aim of this will be to develop a uniform and consistent framework for external dispute resolution mechanisms across the financial services sector.
The appointment of the first board of directors will be effective for a three-year term, having commenced on November 1, 2020.