Information for Providers

 

General principles which providers are expected to follow
 
1. Provide a formalised complaints handling process which is easy to access and which all staff should be aware of. The process should be appropriate to the size of the organisation.
 
2. The complaint handling process should be easily accessible on the provider’s website and at the premises of the provider. The process should be available in English and Maltese. However, the process may be provided in English only if the provider’s clientele are not Maltese.  The process may need to be translated in different languages depending on the provider’s clientele.
 
3. Nominate a senior member of staff – such as the compliance officer - responsible for ensuring that the complaints handling process works in a fair and proper manner.  
 
4. When a complaint is received it should be acknowledged and dealt with within 15 working days from the complaint’s receipt. 
 
5. The Complainant must also be informed that he/she has a right to complain to the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.
 
6. Take all reasonable steps to resolve the matter before it is referred to the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services. 
 
7. Keep robust records not only of the complaints received but also of all documents and information gathered by staff members entrusted with handling complaints.
 
8. Providers are also expected to adhere fully to any rules, directives or guidelines which the Malta Financial Services Authority may issue from time to time.
 
Procedures that providers are expected to follow
 
In many instances, providers can sort out complaints satisfactorily without involvement of the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.  Indeed, it is advisable that every effort should be made by the provider to resolve a complaint. 
 
The Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services will not initiate an investigation before the provider has been given the opportunity by the consumer to put things right.
Generally speaking, providers are required by the financial regulator to have their own internal complaints-handling procedures – and to make this available to its customers. Such procedures shall provide for:
  • complaints to be investigated by an employee of sufficient competence (such as a senior official) who was not   directly involved in the matter which is the subject of the complaint;
  • the person charged with responding to complaints to have the authority to settle complaints or to have ready access to someone who has the necessary authority;
  • responses to complaints to address adequately the subject matter of the complaint and, where a complaint is upheld, to offer appropriate redress.
 
A provider is required to give the customer a final response within 15 days from receipt of the complaint.
The final response should:
 
    i) include a very short description of the complaint, and of the outcome of the provider’s investigation; 
    ii) set out the provider’s final view on the issues raised in the complaint;  and
    iii) include details of any redress that is being offered, if considered appropriate.
 
In the event that the complainant does not accept the redress proposed by the provider or where a complaint has not been upheld, the provider is required to notify the complainant that he may lodge a complaint in writing with the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.
 
In their final response letter, providers must give all relevant contact details of the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services, as follows:
 
Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services
First Floor
St Calcedonius Square
Floriana FRN1530
Malta
 
It may be helpful if complainants are made aware (at the appropriate stage in the complaint’s process) that complaints with the Office should always be made in writing.
 
A complaint form (available in Maltese and English) has been prepared to help consumers provide relevant information when lodging their case with the Office (the complaint form in pdf or Word version may be downloaded from the website).
 
A provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that all relevant employees (including employees of any of its representatives or agents) are aware of its internal complaint handling procedures and must endeavour to ensure that they act in accordance with them.  Such employees should also be aware of the complaints’ process of the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services.
 
When a consumer first contacts the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services with a complaint
On receipt of a complaint form and a letter on file evidencing that the complainant has gone through the provider‘s internal complaint’s handling process, the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services shall register the complaint, offer mediation to both parties and exchange any relevant information.
The Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services shall register a complaint if:
 
  i)   the provider has rejected a complaint and informed its customer accordingly, and /  or
  ii)  the provider has offered a settlement which is rejected by the complainant, and / or
 iii)  the provider has not responded to the customer’s complaint within 15 working days from the lodging of the complaint (to the provider).
 
The provider’s dealings with its customer while the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services considers the complaint
 
While the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services is considering a complaint, the provider should continue to deal with the customer as normal – for example, handling his account or dealing with any separate claims. Obviously, if the provider does something in relation to the complaint, it should inform the Office accordingly
 
The provider is free, at any time, to revise any earlier offer it has made to its customer, if it thinks this could help resolve the complaint.
 
With whom, at the provider, will the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services make contact?
The Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services shall address any correspondence to the Compliance Officer of the provider, or in his absence, to the General Manager or Managing Director. 
 
However, the provider may nominate another official (other than those mentioned above) to whom the Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services can address queries and complaints from consumers. It shall be the responsibility of the provider to provide correct and updated contact details of its representative to the Office.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
CONTACT INFORMATION:
 
  Address
Office of the Arbiter
    for Financial Services
1st Floor
St Calcedonius Square
Floriana FRN 1530
Malta
 
 Freephone (local calls)
80072366 
 
 Telephone
(+356) 21249245 
 
 Email