Our staff – with a wide variety of experience and training in financial services, law, accounting, dispute resolution and regulatory compliance – review and investigate unresolved complaints from clients about financial services providers (FSPs) in or from the Channel Islands.
If we find the FSP has caused a loss to the consumer, we will work to achieve a settlement that aims to make the consumer whole. We may also determine that that compensation for inconvenience is appropriate in the specific circumstance. In some cases, nonfinancial actions such as correcting a credit bureau record may be appropriate. If we find the FSP has acted appropriately, we will explain to the customer why we came to that conclusion.
When we receive a complaint, our team looks at the information provided to make sure it falls within our remit. For instance, the FSP has to fall within CIFO’s remit as set out by law in both Jersey and Guernsey. We also look for a final answer from the FSP to the consumer, which allows us to start our review knowing the positions of both parties. CIFO will look at complaints where the consumer is either unsatisfied with their FSP’s final response, or at least 90 days have passed since the consumer first complained to their FSP and the complaint remains unresolved, as long as the consumer raised the complaint with their FSP within six years of the error that caused the loss or within two years from when the consumer knew or should have known of the problem.
During an investigation, we gather information from both parties and review the facts of the case. We make decisions based on what’s fair to both the consumer and the FSP, taking into account general principles of good financial services and business practices, the law, regulatory policies and guidance, and any applicable professional body, standards, codes of practice, or codes of conduct.
If we believe that the facts of the case do not warrant further review, we will let the consumer know quickly. We always make sure that we explain our reasons, just as we do when we are determining that compensation is appropriate.
If we determine that compensation is owed to the consumer, we try to settle the dispute through a facilitated settlement between the consumer and FSP that aims to address the complaint quickly with a fair outcome to both parties.
If we are unable to facilitate a settlement but we continue to believe the consumer should be compensated, we will complete our investigation and make a determination. We will send a draft report to the FSP and the consumer for a brief comment period. Following the comment period, we will send the consumer and the FSP a final report that sets out our decision. Our decision, if accepted by the consumer, becomes binding upon the FSP.
Neither a court nor a regulator, CIFO does not fine or discipline FSPs or individuals working within the financial sector. While we do not handle matters that have already been through a court or an arbitration, if a client is not satisfied with our conclusions, they are free to pursue their case through other processes including the legal system, subject to statutory limitation periods.
Please Note: We will not review or investigate a complaint, or we may stop reviewing or investigating, if a consumer engages in harassing behaviour or is rude or overly aggressive – including making threats against CIFO and/or its staff. If a consumer acts in that way, CIFO will ask that the behaviour stop. If it does not stop, we may close our file.