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Customers' Ombudsman

Ombudsman for individuals and households

If a customer thinks that the solution offered to them differs from the solutions the Bank normally offers its customers, the customer can contact the Customers’ Ombudsman. Before the Customers’ Ombudsman gets involved, it is important that the customer contacts their branch or the division dealing with their case and tries to work out a solution.

Ombudsman for companies

The role of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to support the process of the financial restructuring of companies experiencing financial difficulties. The Customers’ Ombudsman places great importance on compliance with the rules on the financial restructuring of companies. The Customers’ Ombudsman shall ensure that customers are treated equally and fairly, that cases are processed transparently and are documented and all parties work towards creating viable companies.

Get in touch

The Customers’ Ombudsman is Helgi G. Björnsson. Customers who want the Customers’ Ombudsman to look into their case are requested to send an e-mail providing the details of the case to the Customers’ Ombudsman. Contact the Customers’ Ombudsman by e-mail: umbodsmadur@arionbanki.is

About the Customers’ Ombudsman

The Customers’ Ombudsman reports to the CEO. The role of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to ensure fairness and objectivity when dealing with recovery cases, guaranteeing that the customer is not discriminated against and that the process for handling cases is transparent and fully documented. In order to meet the objectives of the position, the Customers’ Ombudsman helps to devise processes and solutions for customers where applicable.

In addition the Customers’ Ombudsman examines individual cases at the request of customers, employees or at his own initiative. He can examine such cases both while cases are being processed and after they are closed. The Customers’ Ombudsman has access to information and material on individual cases. The Customers’ Ombudsman submits information about the outcome of cases to customers, employees and the Bank's board of directors as needed.

The Bank places great importance on handling cases in a fair and transparent manner.

Guidelines for the fair and transparent handling of cases

To underline the focus on the fair and transparent handling of cases the following guidelines have been adopted:

  1. Document the reasons behind decisions
    It is important to document the process of individual cases and the reasons behind decisions.
  2. Acquiring information
    It is important that all information pertinent to the case is made available before the case is handled.
  3. The customer’s point of view
    It is important that the customer is given the chance to share information and express their points of view, except in cases where this is clearly unnecessary.
  4. Providing guidance
    It is important to provide customers with the necessary information and guidance on the case at hand.
  5. Non-discrimination between customers
    When resolving cases the Bank seeks to be consistent and not to discriminate between different customers.
  6. Restraint and balance
    It is important to go no further than necessary when making decisions which may negatively affect the customer.
  7. Impartiality of employees
    Employees involved in handling cases should be independent and impartial.
  8. Quick service
    Decisions are taken as quickly as possible provided this does not damage the interests of the customer or the Bank unnecessarily.

 

The Customers’ Ombudsman reports directly to the CEO and his role is to assist in the resolution of cases involving individuals, household and companies who are experiencing difficulties repaying their debts. The goal of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to cultivate trust in the way the Bank operates and to ensure fairness and objectivity when dealing with such cases, guaranteeing that the customer is not discriminated against and that the process for handling cases is transparent and fully documented. The Customers’ Ombudsman shall endeavour to ensure the Bank supports the operation of viable companies, that efforts are made to minimize damage resulting from financial difficulties and that all parties are treated on an equal footing.

How does the Customers’ Ombudsman achieve his goals?

Close cooperation with colleagues is essential in order to achieve results. In order to achieve his objectives, the Customers’ Ombudsman helps to develop procedures for handling recovery and loan cases, as appropriate. Furthermore, the Customers’ Ombudsman reviews specific cases as requested by customers, the Bank or at his own discretion. Such a review can take place both while cases are being processed and after they are closed. The Customers’ Ombudsman shall then ensure that the cases are handled equally, fairly and transparently. The Customers’ Ombudsman may contact other employees of the Bank for information and material. Cases to be reviewed by the Customers’ Ombudsman should be sent by e-mail to umbodsmadur@arionbanki.is.

Ombudsman for companies

The Customers’ Ombudsman supports the corporate debt recovery process and companies have easy access to the Customers’ Ombudsman. Companies who want the Customers’ Ombudsman to examine their case should contact the Customers’ Ombudsman by e-mail. The Customers’ Ombudsman bases his opinion on the available material and information provided by companies and employees of the Bank. The Customers’ Ombudsman informs the Bank and customers of the conclusion reached as necessary. 

Ombudsman for individuals

The Customers’ Ombudsman is also involved in cases concerning individual customers who are experiencing financial difficulties. The Customers’ Ombudsman is not a substitute for the standard measures to resolve debts and he only gets involved in cases once they have been reviewed by branch managers. The chief role of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to examine whether cases are dealt with fairly and that all parties are treated equally. The Customers’ Ombudsman informs the Bank and customers of the conclusion reached as necessary.

Transparent and fair treatment

The Bank strives to ensure that cases are dealt with in a fair and transparent manner and that there is collaboration between creditors, the so-called London Approach. The Customers’ Ombudsman has set criteria for dealing with cases in a transparent and fair manner and also established criteria for collaboration between creditors (the London Approach).

 

In Opinion 3/2008 issued by the Competition Authority the banks are asked to take into account the following principles when making decisions which could have an impact on the future of companies and competition in Iceland.

  1. Improve competition or minimize disruption
    If two or more measures, e.g. connected to corporate restructuring, are considered, the option which improves competition or causes least disruption is selected.
  2. Avoid oligopolies and inappropriate connections
    Avoid, where possible, creating oligopolies or inappropriate connections between management and owners on competitive markets. This applies especially to markets which occupy a key position in the economy and/or where there are significant barriers to entering the market.
  3. Use opportunities to increase competition
    Opportunities are used as much as possible to reduce oligopolies, barriers to entering the market, inappropriate connections between management and owners or a market dominant position. This enables the bank to assess whether it might be practical in the long term to split companies rather than merge them.
  4. Equality
    Companies may not be discriminated against on a subjective basis.
  5. Independent employees
    The running or financial restructuring of two or more competitors, which are customers of the same bank, should not be in the hands of the same person at the bank. The ownership and service role of the bank should be kept separate. For example, different interests should be managed by setting up holding companies or management companies.
  6. Transparent resale process
    If companies or their assets are offered for sale it must be ensured that all potential buyers have equal opportunities to submit offers and that buyers are selected on an objective basis. The process should be as open and transparent as possible.
  7. Entry of new players into a competitive market
    Opportunities should be created for new players, if applicable international investors, to enter the competitive market, e.g. by acquiring companies or assets.
  8. Involvement of new players
    When companies are being recovered it should be assessed whether new players should be given the opportunity to get involved with the aim of improving competition. An example of this is banks injecting new equity into companies with the result that the shareholdings of previous owners are reduced or eliminated.
  9. Evaluation of the effect on competition
    An evaluation should be carried out on what effect significant measures could have on competition. In order to ensure the effectiveness of such an evaluation, a person with expertise of competition matters should be nominated in order to monitor and, as applicable, participate in decisions. This person should ideally be independent.
  10. Transparent restructuring process
    In order to ensure transparency and to avoid creating mistrust, the process for restructuring companies and other important measures must be documented, e.g. by the people nominated under item 9.
  1. Objective
    The objective of these rules is to ensure that there is a transparent, fair and effective process for recording and handling complaints received by Arion Bank hf. (hereafter the Bank). These rules are established on the basis of Article 19 of the Financial Undertakings Act No. 161/2002 and Regulations No. 672/2017 on Normal and Healthy Business Practices.
    The term “customers" in these rules refers both to individuals and legal persons who do or have done business with Arion Bank.
  2. Recording and handling complaints from customers
    Customers of Arion Bank can direct any complaints they may have to frontline employees or to the Customers’ Ombudsman. Frontline employees should try to sort out the complaints. If this is not possible or the complaint needs to be addressed elsewhere within the Bank, the employee to whom the complaint was first made shall pass it on to the relevant division of the Bank. The employee to whom the complaint was made shall confirm that the complaint was made and register it in the CRM system.
    All complaints shall be responded to as quickly as possible, and not later than within four weeks of the complaint being received by Arion Bank. If the complaint cannot be resolved within those time limits, the Bank shall inform the customer, state the reason why and when an answer can be expected.
    When the complaint has been thoroughly examined, the customer shall be notified in writing or in a similar way to which the complaint was made, of the conclusion reached by the Bank. If no action is to be taken in respect of the customer’s complaint, the customer shall be notified of the Bank’s decision and how it was reached in writing and informed of any legal remedies available to them.
  3. Guidelines on the fair and transparent handling of cases
    The Bank places great importance on handling complaints in a fair and transparent manner. In order to ensure this the Bank has adopted the following guidelines on the transparent and fair handling of complaints.
    1. Document the reasons behind decisions. It is important to document the process of individual cases and the reasons behind decisions.
    2. Acquiring information. It is important that all information pertinent to the case is acquired before the case is handled.
    3. The customer’s point of view. It is important that the customer is given the chance to share information and express their points of view, except in cases where this is clearly unnecessary.
    4. Providing guidance. It is important to provide customers with the necessary information and guidance on their case.
    5. Non-discrimination against customers. When resolving cases the Bank seeks to be consistent and not to discriminate against customers.
    6. Restraint and balance. It is important to go no further than necessary when making decisions which may negatively affect the customer.
    7. Impartiality of employees. Employees involved in handling cases should be independent and impartial.
    8. Quick service. Decisions are taken as quickly as possible provided this does not damage the interests of the customer or the Bank unnecessarily.
      The guidelines are published on the website www.arionbanki.is. 
  4. Customers’ Ombudsman
    The role of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to ensure fairness and objectivity when resolving issues, guaranteeing that the customer is not discriminated against and that the process for handling cases is transparent and fully documented. The role of the Customers’ Ombudsman is to support the process of financially restructuring companies experiencing financial difficulties. The Customers’ Ombudsman provides information on the outcome of cases to customers, employees and the Bank's board of directors as needed.
    The Customers’ Ombudsman shall ensure that customers are treated equally and fairly, that cases are processed transparently and are documented and all parties work towards creating viable companies.
    If a customer is dissatisfied with the solution offered to them and thinks that it differs from the solutions the Bank normally offers its customers, the customer can contact the Customers’ Ombudsman. Before the Customers' Ombudsman gets involved, it is important that the customer contacts their branch or the division dealing with their case and tries to work out a solution.
    Customers who require the assistance of the Customers' Ombudsman can send an e-mail providing the details of the case to the Customers' Ombudsman. Contact the Customers' Ombudsman by e-mail: umbodsmadur@arionbanki.is
    The Customers’ Ombudsman shall regularly make assessments of the handling of complaints at Arion Bank.
  5. Arbitration committee on transactions with financial companies
    The customer can forward any dispute with the Bank to the arbitration committee on transactions with financial companies in accordance with the rules of the committee. The arbitration committee works under the auspices of the FME and information on the committee can be found on the website of the FME, www.fme.is.
  6. Reviewing rules of procedure
    If it is found that the Bank is in breach of the law, regulations or rules of procedure, the Bank's Legal division shall assess whether and, if applicable, what measures are necessary to ensure that such breaches do not occur again.