Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information Publication Scheme for the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO)

The FSPO has prepared this Publication Scheme in accordance with Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. This scheme is designed to facilitate the proactive provision of information to make the delivery of our services and the operation of our organisation as transparent as possible.

Background

The Office of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman was established on 1 January 2018 under the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017 ('the Act'). The Act dissolved the former FSO and the former OPO, with the staff from the two bodies joining the newly merged entity.

Under our governing legislation, our principal function is to investigate complaints against financial service or pension providers in a manner which is proportionate to the nature of the complaint. The Act provides discretion for us to undertake these investigations by informal means, by mediation, by formal investigation/oral hearing or by a combination of these means.

Who we are and what we do

We are a complaints body. We provide an independent, fair and impartial service for consumers to resolve complaints about their financial service or pension provider.

Who can you complain about?

Financial Services Providers and Pension Providers

Records held by the FSPO

The range of records held in the FSPO fall within the following broad categories:

Internal Business and Administrative Records:
  • Personnel records
  • Accounts records and procurement information
  • Assets register
  • Guidelines, circulars and organisational policies
  • Published media coverage, including press cuttings
  • Speeches and presentations by the Ombudsman/staff of the FSPO
  • Contacts with Financial Service Providers and Pension Providers including the names of liaison officers for bodies covered by the Act
  • Notes and minutes of management meetings and associated documentation
  • Records relating to publication of reports
  • Records related to the management of complaints
  • Statistics on complaints management and service delivery
  • FOI requests for access to records held by the FSPO
  • Data Protection Act requests for access to records held by the FSPO
  • General enquiries and correspondence
Stakeholder Engagement:
  • Contacts and correspondence with the Department of Finance and the Central Bank
  • Contacts and correspondence with the Pension Authority and Department of Social Employment Affairs and Social Protection
  • Contacts and correspondence with Oireachtas Committees
  • Memoranda of Understanding with other public bodies
Services Delivery:
  • Complaint records, including records of communications with financial service providers and pension providers and complainants
  • Submissions made by financial service providers, pensions providers and complainants
  • Records of legal advice sought and received
  • Decisions of the Ombudsman
  • Other records relating to our services, including complaint closure details, investigations, analysis and comment by officials of the FSPO
Ombudsman's other records pertaining to Functions and Duties under the Act:
Archived records of the dissolved bodies

In accordance with section 34(1) of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017, the FSPO holds records of the dissolved bodies of the Financial Service Ombudsman Bureau, the Council of the Financial Services Ombudsman Bureau and the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman.

Governance and Accountability

We are an independent statutory body, whose statutory functions are set out in Section 12 of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Act 2017. Our overarching role is to investigate complaints against financial service or pension providers in an impartial manner which is proportionate to the nature of the complaint.

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman is appointed by the Minister for Finance and is independent in the exercise of his functions. The Ombudsman's term is for a period of five years. The Ombudsman and his office are subject to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.

Part 4 of the FSPO Act sets out the role of the FSPO Council, which has two main areas of responsibility: firstly it is responsible under the legislation for setting the levy to be paid by financial service providers; and secondly it has certain oversight responsibilities in relation to the work of the Office, including its responsibilities in relation to:

  • Approval of the Office's annual budget;
  • Approval of the Office's strategic plan; and
  • Keeping under review the efficiency and effectiveness of the Ombudsman

Our office is staffed by public servants who are bound by a Code of Standards and Behaviours, as well as corporate policies, procedures, circulars and office notices. As a public body, we are subject to a range of legislative obligations, including in relation to Freedom of Information and Data Protection.

We have put in place the appropriate corporate governance structures to ensure strategic leadership and management of the office and an effective system of internal control. These governance structures include a Finance Committee, an Audit and Risk Committee, a risk management system, and both an internal and external audit function. In addition, the FSPO is subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General and scrutiny by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Council Members

The members of the Council are appointed by the Minister of Finance, through an open competition managed by the Public Appointments Service. The current Members of the Council are:

Maeve Dineen (Chairman)
Corporate Communications Consultant and former Business Editor of Irish Independent

Valerie Bowens
Director of Regulatory and Compliance, Dillion Eustace Solicitors

Don Gallagher
CEO, Health Insurance Authority

Dermott Jewell
Policy and Council Advisor, Consumers' Association of Ireland

Ken Murnaghan
Member of the Management Board of Finance Ireland Limited

Deborah Reidy
Director of Investment Consulting, Aon Hewitt

Elizabeth Walsh
Solicitor, Elizabeth Walsh Solicitors

Corporate Plans and Strategies

Together with our Council, staff and stakeholders we published our three-year "Strategic Plan 2018-2021 Enhancing the Customer Experience"" in June 2018.

Annual Reports

As the FSPO was established on the 1 January 2018, the organisation has yet to publish its first annual report which is due in 2019.

The archived reports for the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman can be found here.

Senior Management Team

Ger Deering
Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsmant

Elaine Cassidy
Deputy Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsmant

MaryRose McGovern
Director of Director of Investigation, Adjudication and Legal Services t

Diarmuid Byrne
Director of the Dispute Resolution Servicet

Tara McDermott
Director of Customer Operations and Information Managementt

Kevin De Barra
Director of Corporate and Communication Servicest

Salaries

Staff salary ranges are in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 16/2018: Application of 1 October 2018 Pay Adjustments under the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017. The table below includes the number of staff members in receipt of salaries in excess of €60,000. Please note these figures are based on those of the Financial Services Ombudsman at 31 December 2017, prior to its dissolution.

RangeNumber of employees
From To @ as 31 December 2017
€60,000 - €69,999 2
€70,000 - €79,999 3
€80,000 - €89,999 1
€90,000 - €99,999 -
€100,000 - €109,999 3
€110,000 - €119,999 -
€120,000 - €129,999 -
€130,000 - €139,999 -
€140,000 - €149,999 1
€150,000 - €159,999 -
€160,000 - €169,999 -

Note: For the purposes of this disclosure, short-term employee benefits in relation to services rendered during the reporting period include salary, overtime allowances and other payments made on behalf of the employee, but excluding employer's PRSI and pension contributions.

Contact Details

Address
Lincoln House, Lincoln Place, Dublin D02 VH29

Telephone Number
+353 (1) 5677000

Email
info@fspo.ie

Website
https://www.fspo.ie/

Location map
Opening hours
Our Customer Service Charter is available here.
The service we provide

We provide an independent, fair and impartial service for consumers to resolve complaints about their financial service or pension provider.

We will deal with complaints informally at first by talking to the complainant about their complaint and understanding it from their point of view and we will talk to the provider.

We aim to help the Complainant and Provider to reach an agreement through mediation. Mediation is informal and confidential. It often takes place over the phone.

Where these early interventions do not resolve the dispute, both parties will continue to have the option of having their complaint independently adjudicated and a legally binding decision appealable to the High Court, issued. More information on our complaint process can be found here.

How our service can be accessed

Before making a complaint to the FSPO, a complainant should give the provider a chance to sort out the problem. A complainant should contact the provider and make a complaint to it directly and the provider should deal with the complaint through its complaint handling process. This is called an internal dispute resolution process (IDR process).

Complaints to the FSPO should generally be made in writing (post or email), or by using our online complaint form. If a person has a disability and/or needs help to use the services of the Ombudsman, they can contact us and we will endeavour to facilitate them. Complainants can also visit the Office of the FSPO in person to make their complaint. Third parties can complain on behalf of Complainants provided appropriate consent is granted.

How much does it cost to access our service

There is no fee for making a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

Review or appeal rights relating to such services
Appealing our Decision

If a complainant is not satisfied, they can appeal to the High Court against our legally binding decision (within 35 days of the decision). The provider also has the right to appeal our decision.

Although our services are free, remember that submitting an appeal to the High Court is not. If a complainant appeals our decision and they are not successful, they may have to pay all the legal costs.

The FSPO is a complaints body and therefore does not make decisions on public policy.
Funding

The FSPO is funded through two distinct sources; the financial services complaints are funded by a levy on the financial services industry and the pensions complaints are funded by the Exchequer, through the Department of Finance, which in 2018 amounts to €950,000.

A core function of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Council is to determine and prescribe by legislation the financial services industry levy. This function is carried out in conjunction with the submission of the annual estimate of income and expenditure by the FSPO to the Council for its approval. The statement setting out the annual estimates specifies the amounts expected to be collected and recovered during the financial year concerned from the imposition of the financial services industry levy. In 2018, the financial services industry levy amounts to approximately €4.3 million. The regulations, which govern the collection of this levy, are available here: Statutory Instrument 214 of 2018.

Plans for major Capital Expenditure.

All major capital expenditure is budgeted for and in alignment with the implementation of the Strategic Plan. The FSPO's Procurement policy underpins all procurement activities undertaken, and ensures compliance with government circulars and guidelines issued by the Office of Government Procurement.

Governance - Council members' Remuneration:

Council members are paid Council fees quarterly in arrears. The total paid in fees in 2017 is indicated in the table below.

Council Fees
Number of Meetings 7
Maeve Dineen 7 €20,769
Valerie Bowens 6 €12,600
Deborah Reidy 6 €12,600
Ken Murnaghan 7 €12,600
Dermott Jewell 6 €12,115
Elizabeth Walsh 7 €12,115
Don Gallagher 7 0 **

**One Council member, Don Gallagher, did not receive a Council fee under the One Person One Salary (OPOS) principle.

Procurement - how we purchase goods and services

The procurement policy of the FSPO centres on the principles of competitive tendering and is in accordance with the OGP Public Procurement Guidelines for Goods and Services. Our procurement policy provides that all procurement decisions and purchases made by the FSPO, supported by the FSPO Council, are carried out in accordance and in full compliance with all national legislation, EU Directives, Office of Government Procurement guidelines, Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure & Reform Circulars and the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.

All procurement must reflect a consistent approach to purchasing decisions and at all times represent Value for Money for the FSPO.

The following projects were advertised on eTenders in 2018 using an open procedure (Non OJEU):

  • Human Resources Management System
  • Procurement Services
FOI Disclosure Log
Does the FOI Act apply to the FSPO?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 was enacted on 14 October 2014 and repeals the 1997 and 2003 Acts.

Freedom of Information legislation is applicable to the FSPO, however, Section 76 of the FSPO Act includes an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act 2014, and provides that the FOI Act does not apply in relation to "records concerning the mediation, investigation or adjudication of a complaint carried out by the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman".

The FPO Act 2014 provides the following statutory rights:

  • A legal right for each person to access information held by a body to which FOI legislation applies.
  • A legal right for each person to have official information relating to himself/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading.
  • A legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting himself/herself.

The Freedom of Information Act asserts the right of members of the public to obtain access to official information to the greatest extent possible, consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy of individuals.

Making a request to the FSPO

We have a dedicated information section, which is available to assist you with general queries, requests for information and publications. A considerable amount of material is already made available to the public through our website, information leaflets, publications and in response to oral and written enquiries.

If the information you require is not readily available here is how to make a request to us:

  1. Give us a call at +353 1 567 7000 to discuss your request.
  2. Make the request in writing or by email to: Freedom of Information Officer
    Address: Lincoln House, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2, D02 VH29
    E-mail: meagan.gill@fspo.ie
  3. Make sure your request refers to the fact that you are making a freedom of information request under the Freedom of Information Act. (If you need additional assistance in formulating your FOI request, we will be happy to help you with this.)
  4. Let us know how you would like us to send you the information for example by email or by post.
  5. Try to be as specific as you can to help us identify the information you require.
  6. Let us know the time period for which you wish to access records (for example, records created between May 2016 and December 2017).

We will acknowledge your request within 2 weeks and, in most cases, respond within 4 weeks. If responding to your query requires us to involve a third party, we may require additional time to process your request.

The FOI Act is intended to allow access to information held by public bodies which is not routinely available by other means subject to certain exemptions, procedures and time limits. The following information about the activities and functions of the FSPO is available without the need to use the FOI Act.

Information available on our website