Ombudsman for banking services honours the banks best at resolving complaints

Reana Steyn, the ombudsman for banking services in South Africa. Picture: Supplied.

Reana Steyn, the ombudsman for banking services in South Africa. Picture: Supplied.

Published Nov 28, 2023


Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) Reana Steyn lauded banks that have best co-operated with her office in resolving customers’ complaints.

At the OBS Annual Banking Awards ceremony in Johannesburg on November 24, Steyn recognised the banks and their staff that had delivered excellent service and performance. They werend judged on how they handled disputes during the OBS’s 2022/23 financial year.

The OBS said there were two categories, big banks and smaller banks, in the OBS Annual Banking Awards.

For both categories, the criteria were:

● The quality of the bank’s written replies to the office in response to specific complaints.

● The response time.

● The overall fairness of the response.

In Category A, the nominees were Absa, FNB, and Standard Bank. The 2023 award went to FNB.

In Category B, the nominees were Investec, Postbank and Access Bank, and the award went to Investec.

Individual effort was also recognised, with an award for bank staff members who impressed the OBS with their consistently excellent service. The following criteria were applied:

1. Treating all complainants with equal dignity and respect and affording all complaints the necessary level of attention.

2. Providing prompt and efficient service to the complainant and the OBS.

3. Initiating and/or improving measures and/or service level agreements to enhance their bank’s level of service in complaints handling.

4. Being knowledgeable about the bank’s products, services and processes, including internal complaints-handling mechanisms as well as those of the OBS.

In Category A, the nominees were Karin Jonker (Absa), Nadette Rappard (African Bank), and Mohammed Safi (Nedbank). In Category B they were Aisha Laher (Investec), Elias Mier (Postbank), and Melissa Strauss (Access Bank).

The winners were Karen Jonker from Abssa and Elias Mier from Postbank.

The ceremony, which has been an annual event for 17 years, was the last of its kind. This is because a new ombudsman scheme for the financial services industry comes into effect next year. On March 1, 2024, the four voluntary financial ombud schemes – the OBS, Long-term Insurance Ombudsman, Credit Ombud, and Short-Term Insurance Ombudsman – will amalgamate into a single new entity.

“In as much as the OBS has functioned as an independent non-profit organisation, and the banks recognise the authority of the ombudsman, the work that we do – and the work ombudsmen under the new system will do – cannot be fully accomplished without the co-operation of all the banks involved.

“We have set measurable standards for the banks, which have reflected our values in promising to deliver a free, impartial and speedy resolution of banking complaints,” Steyn said.

The OBS said that for several years, the ceremony has also included an award for an OBS staff member. The award went to the employee who represented the OBS’s internal and cultural values, and who was judged by their peers to have gone beyond the call of duty.

The 2023 OBS staff member winner was Palesa Zwane.

“This has always been the highlight for me because this nomination is about the OBS employees recognising one another. It is about the team member, as voted for by the team. I am proud to congratulate Palesa as this year’s winning staff member,” Steyn said.