Malaysia’s very own Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS)

Published By Caitlyn Ng -- Apr 18, 2017

When you first hear the word ‘ombudsman’, do you immediately think, “What?”

Don’t worry you’re not alone! This article is here to guide all consumers out there on this service and how they can benefit from it.

To get a clearer picture, think of how those with issues relating to goods and services will turn to the Consumer Claims Tribunal while those with issues with a property developer will turn to the Home Buyer Claims Tribunal. Who do those with financially-related issues turn to?

The Ombuds-what?

Enter the Ombudsman for Financial Services (OFS), an independent (non-profit) redress mechanism. Its main aim is to help financial consumers resolve any complaints or disputes they might have with financial service providers (known as 'Members').

It was formerly known as the Financial Mediation Bureau, and was set up to provide a fair and efficient avenue for any financial services and products. This body is approved by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) under the Financial Service Act 2013 as well as the Islamic Financial Service Act 2013.

The OFS operates in accordance to six core principles:

  • Independence
  • Fairness and impartiality
  • Accessibility
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Effectiveness

*Note: All information in the tables below comes from the official Ombudsman for Financial Services website, unless stated otherwise.

Who are those that the OFS covers?

The OFS is an alternative resolution body that allows for anyone from the public to refer a qualified dispute involving any one of the Members below:


Source: www.ofs.org.my

There are a range of eligible complaints or disputes which can be brought up to the OFS, whose services are free of charge. These can be generally categorised into two types: insurance / Takaful and conventional / Islamic banking (such as credit cards and personal loans). The following table puts them all into an easy-to-refer guide:


Source: www.ofs.org.my

But wait! Are there non-eligible complaints / disputes?

As with everything else, there is always another side to the coin. But the short answer to the question above is, “Most definitely”. No need to worry though, since you can always refer to BNM if your issue is not covered under the scope of the OFS.

There is a detailed list of complaints / disputes which the OFS will not consider against a Member, should one of the following ever be brought to their attention, some of which include:


Source: www.ofs.org.my

How does it work?

First, make sure that you’ve exhausted all possible venues to achieve an amicable settlement with the Member in question, before filing a complaint with the OFS. If, after 60 days have passed and you have not gotten a response or are dissatisfied with the Member’s decision, that’s when you know you have to turn to the OFS!

Take note that there is also a timeframe as to when you need decide whether or not to lodge that complaint; within six months from the date of the reply by the Member in question.

Next, you’d need to know how much the monetary limit for claiming is; each form of dispute has its designated amount:


Source: www.ofs.org.my

Through the Complaint Management Unit (CMU) – which is the first touchpoint of the OFS – you can file a complaint either in writing or in person. After that, the following one of two possible scenarios may occur:


Source: www.ofs.org.my

The next step of the process is where the Case Manager will assess the complaint / dispute, along with all the relevant information / clarification and documents which have been provided to them by you and the Member in question. Read more about the entire process here.

To conclude

The OFS exists in order to create an avenue for financial consumers to be able to turn to when they require an effective and prompt resolution of complaints / disputes. This will then create awareness amongst the members of the financial industry as well as the consumers regarding matters of common interest. The more you know!

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