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Greater transparency for Channel Islands customers


With customer complaints mounting over the last few years, the transition of the Channel Islands Ombudsmun looks set to change the state of play for residents and outside investors. Things look promising for these solitary islands.

Since 2015 the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman has acted as a regulator for companies and consumers across Jersey and Guernsey. While very common in the UK ever since their creation In 2000, it was only brought from theory to practice for the islands from 2009-2015, after which time it had received more than 200 in its first 6 months, up to 1,293 as of the end of 2016.

In order to improve their services, the Ombudsman will provide a comprehensive list of those firms involved in complaints between themselves and their consumers.


So what does this mean?

While financial Ombudsman acts as impartial mediators between consumers and companies, the difficulty with the CIFO is the lack of transparency; with any reported complaint, there is no specification whether it took place in Jersey or Guernsey, what kind of poor practice it was and which company it was. And with roughly seventy-four percent of consumer complaints coming from outside investors to the Islands, the pressure is there to ensure good conduct.

Is this surprising?

Well, yes and no. Yes because online reports are a very common practice for Ombudsman in the mainland UK since 2009 at the very least. For the UK, these are published every six months as a means of raising consumer awareness, as well as to better help with quality assurance. With growing optimism towards investing in the Channel Islands, it is surprising to see that this change of course in economics is only coming to fruition now.

But it’s also unsurprising because the overall structure of the CIFO is what must have necessitated this policy shift. With the Ombudsman being initially private, this move coincides with its own transition into a public one as of the first quarter of 2018. The growing desire to invest in the Channel Islands coupled with the CIFO’s previous mediation between companies and investors outside of Jersey and Guernsey has demonstrated this need to create a clearer relationship so as not to take the wind out of the financial sails.

James McQuillan