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FOS appoints Natalie Ceeney as chief ombudsman

The Financial Ombudsman Service has today announced the appointment of Natalie Ceeney (pictured) as chief ombudsman and chief executive.

Ceeney succeeds Walter Merricks who stepped down in October after ten years in the post.

She will join as chief ombudsman on March 22, 2010 from the National Archives, where she is chief executive and keeper of the public records.

She was formerly director of operations and services at the British Library and previously led strategic consultancy projects across a range of industries at McKinsey & Company.

Until Ceeney formally takes up the position David Thomas will continue to carry out the responsibilities of the post on an interim basis.

FOS chairman Christopher Kelly says: “Natalie Ceeney takes up the position of chief ombudsman at a turning point for the ombudsman service. Set up ten years ago to deal with 30,000 complaints annually, we are now gearing up for an annual workload of 200,000 cases.

“The challenges and demands now facing us are ones that Natalie will be ideally positioned to meet with her extensive experience in strategic change management and engagement with a range of government departments and stakeholders. She is an outstanding individual and my board and I look forward to working with her.”

Ceeney adds: “The exceptional demand placed on the ombudsman service in recent times clearly reflects public regard for the ombudsman as the independent, impartial and accessible provider of justice.

“I look forward to working with colleagues at the ombudsman service as well as with all the ombudsman’s customers and stakeholders to ensure we build on existing successes in providing access to redress and helping to underpin confidence in financial services.”


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There are 24 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Plenty of relevant financial services experience on her CV then.

  2. Any legal and/or financial services experience?

    Any qualifications?

    Oh, of course none are required for regulators.

    As a keeper of historical records we hope that she doesn’t succumb to the temptation of using retrospection which it what has undermined adviser confidence in the service.

  3. Whilst at the National Archives Natalie Ceeney was on a crusade to change the way that civil servants treat information and knowledge.

    This is certainly an agreeable target for the FOS which, under Walter Merricks, kept certain comlaint information on post-it notes rather than progress them online where they could be seen.

    New face, new opportunity. Let’s hope that her year end review saysmore than “could do better”.

  4. Having read what Alan lakey posted on our blog I must say that although she is yet another McKinsey man, sorry, woman this is an interesting appointment, I have some hope that we can work out our differences. Hope is all we have when the odds are stacked against us in retirement.

  5. never worked in our industry? sounds ideal candidate

  6. Sad to see genuine experts with decades of relevant experience overlooked in favour of an ex-management consultant. Happens too often in UK industry and FS.

  7. On the positive side she is not from a Bank.

    On the downside she is not from as Bank.

    On the positive side she has no experience nor industry qualifications.

    On the downside she has no experience or industry qualifications.

    On the positive side she will do just as the FSA tell her.

    On the downside she will do just as the FSA tell her.

    So there we are could have been better could have been worse.

  8. I don’t suppose the decisions will get any more fair or equitable but we might at least get the quicker and more orgainised.

    If they get rid of the FSA that would mean getting rid of FOS. Now there’s a thought.

  9. Can’t get any worse…get rid of low grade bodyshopped contract staff and actually train staff to understand products please!.

  10. Looks a bit of a cracker, stuff any qualifications.

  11. paolo standerwick 11th January 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Lets see if she can exceed the incompetency levels of FOS of the past? I’m sure she could.

  12. I wonder if she will be as easily influenced by TSC members as Merricks was, mind you he was influenced by all sorts of people and bodies.

    Did he go? Or was he pushed? Will there actually be a complete overhaul of the FOS as was intimated to me by an FSA director? Will it be be done before the ECtHR get their teeth into our case?

    The regulators, Hector and Lesley that is, have a favourite word, “interesting”.

    Very interesting times ahead eh?

  13. So if this top-rung position was at a financial services firm, then the FSA would require her to be suitably and demonstrably experienced and/or qualified for the role?

    Oh wait a tic, it is…

    Comic genius, you couldn’t make this up.

  14. Unlike Walter Merrick, Natalie Ceeney does not have a legal background so she can at least plead ignorance over the many human rights abuses that the FOS has committed! Lets hope this non lawyers as a higher opinion of human rights.

    The FOS/FSA & its lack of an Appeal process offends the “fair trial” provisions of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights ECHR incorporated into law by the Human Rights Act 1998. –

    S228 (2) of the Financial Services and Markets Acts empowers the FOS to impose on firms: “such steps as the ombudsman considers just and appropriate (whether or not a court could order those steps to be taken” – S229 (2)(b).

    These powers mark the FOS as the executive officer of an elected dictatorship, an institution worthy only of former Eastern Germany and certainly not a country with a 1000 years of common law!

  15. Natalie Ceeney is not a qualified lawyer but then again Walter Merricks was! As a lawyers he headed up the FOS while it ignored the rule of law, the rights of individuals to be determined by law and not the arbitrary actions of authority, the presumption of innocence, the right of appeal, the presumption that actions should not be judged retrospectively etc.

    Maybe Natalie Ceeney will show a lawyer a thing or two about the rule of law?

  16. On the upside she’s better looking than Walter



  17. Alistair E Niven 11th January 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Management consultants aren’t used to taking decisions, or are they?. Naively I thought that’s what the FOS had to do after investigating the alleged maladministration. Did anyone see the advert for the job or the job spec?

  18. Elizabeth D'Costa 12th January 2010 at 10:46 am

    Fabulous appointment, she can help with the filing of the thousands of cases waiting to be dealt with.

    Congrats Sir Kelly, did you meet when she was archiving your report into MPs expenses?

  19. Mr Mansell, you have not got a clue as to what you are talking about. Breach of human rights? Grow up. You have a choice to accept a final decision made by the FOS, or not accept it. You have a choice to take a complaint through a court if you so wish. You have a choice to make a complaint about the FOS if you wish. You can go to the independant assessor if you want. Did you do any of these? You must only be whinging because the FOS rejected your complaint.
    I have no love of the FOS, but it is there as an alternative to the court system but it does not explicitly work within the framework of the legal system. If you want ‘legal’ then go to a court.

  20. No experience of being an Ombudsman, no Financial Services qualification, No relevant Legal qualification. No doubt the Lady has been chosen for some other special qualities – Is it unreasonable to assume that IFAs will be subject to the same interview processes when seeking permission from the the FSA merely to be allowed to continue to service their clients and earn a living ?

  21. Please read up first... 14th January 2010 at 11:46 am

    To anon (13/01 – 9:57). You claim Mr Mansell does not understand what he is talking about but clearly neither do you. The ‘public’ can indeed accept or decline the decision of the FOS and decide to try the courts instead. However, a FOS ruling is binding on the IFA/Financial Services firm – yes you can try to make counter points and are entitled to request it be reviewed by an Ombudsman (as opposed to an Adjudicator), but ultimately, their ‘final’ ruling goes.

    Also, yes – it might be an alternative to the court, but in my experience, small claims court would be quicker, cheaper & much more efficient. Granted, complaints above the small claims limit are a different matter.

    In closing, have you ever actually dealt with the FOS?

  22. Please read up first… Was this something you were planning to do at some point?

    Anyway, unfortunately – unfortunate for you, that is – despite the fact that the only person who is wrong is yourself, maybe that’s unfair so we’ll say ‘inaccurate’ instead, I would imagine that if ignorance is indeed bliss, you are probably quite a happy person.

    What you have said may possibly have had some credence to it had you first of all observed some basic facts –

    The FOS is an independant arbitration service, not a consumer champion. Oddly enough, people who spend a lot of time on forums and places like this whinging about how their complaint wasn’t upheld don’t seem to understand that, but there you go.

    The FOS is not the regulator, that is the FSA, and it has no formal powers of enforcement like the FSA does. Again, many people don’t actually understand the difference and then whine about it because they didn’t get their way.

    You have a choice to make a referral there, no one forces you to. If you want the FOS opinion on a complaint, that’s what you get – it’s opinion.

    As noted, the FOS is there as an informal alternative to the court system; if you want a legal standing on a complaint, go through the legal system.

    The only people that whine about ‘FOS injustices’ are the ones who don’t like the opinion they get.

    The ‘final ruling’ you mention – ie. a final decision – which a complainant will have chosen to pursue most of the time, is the end of the FOS process, as everything has to end somewhere. However, it is only binding if it is accepted by the complainant – if the complainant doesn’t accept it, it isn’t binding on anyone. Kind of an important bit that, and something you interestingly left out of your waffle, but I thought I’d mention it all the same.

    Furthermore on that point, if an FOS ruling is binding on the IFA/Financial Services firm as you observe, does that mean the legal system isn’t then? What sense does that make? Just because the FOS might reject a complaint, doesn’t necessarily mean the courts would. Again, it comes back to having a basic understanding of what the FOS is there for in the first place and how it works. Unfortunately, your comments indicate that you don’t understand this in any depth.

    In addition, I’m not quite sure how the small claims court is going to be cheaper than a free service, but I do agree it might be quicker in some cases. As far as efficency goes though, it’s the legal system and a court, how is not going to be better and more efficient? A small claims court also isn’t going to have tens of thousands of cases going through it at any one time and doesn’t have to put up with people like you wasting everyone’s time every five minutes with their whinging.

    In closing, have I ever dealt with the FOS? Let me think: worked there and used the service as well… Yep, I do know more about it than you do and yet I still don’t like them either.

    However, please, next time, please read up first.

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  24. Hey, I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we wait to SEE what Natalie will bring instead of just deciding that she can’t do the job! Oh wait …. then we can’t moan and complain can we. This is a woman with an excellent work background who has proven skills and impressive reputation. If she DID have a financial background, she could be accused of bias, if she DID have a legal background she could be accused of knowing too much about the legal system to be impartial etc etc. I, for one, would like to see what will happen before I shout. Anyone else up for this innovation?

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