FAQs

  • About Our Office
  • About the Complaints Process
  • About the Participating Entities

General

Who is the Financial Services Ombudsman?

Ms. Suzanne Roach was appointed the new Financial Services Ombudsman, effective May 01, 2010 succeeding her predecessor Ms. Ann Marie Narine.

Suzanne is a Chartered Accountant by profession and has spent more than thirty-one years in the financial sector, twenty-seven of those at the Central Bank. During her career at the Central Bank (she joined on September 1, 1982), she has served in several departments and held the position of Manager, Internal Audit prior to her appointment.

She is involved in a number of professional associations and is presently a Governor of the Board of Directors for the Institute of Internal Audit (IIA) Trinidad and Tobago Chapter. Suzanne also has a passion for fund raising ventures, Public Relations and Financial Counseling and served as the President of the Soroptimist International of St. Augustine and Treasurer of the Soroptimist International National Association of Trinidad and Tobago. She is also the current treasurer of Soroptimist International Caribbean Network.

Suzanne pursued her Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Studies (Industrial Management option) and the Master of Science Degree in Accounting at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.

What is the purpose of the Financial Services Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman will receive complaints about the provision of banking and insurance services to individuals and small businesses and will facilitate the settlement of these complaints.

Do I have to pay for the services of the Obmudsman?

No, the services of the Ombudsman are free.

Is the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman independent?

The Ombudsman’s Office is independent of the commercial banks and the insurance companies. The Ombudsman reports directly to the Governor of the Central Bank.

If I need further details or clarification on any of the above questions, whom can I contact?

Further details may be obtained from the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman which is located First Floor, Central Bank Building, Independence Square, Port Of Spain – Tel. 625-4835/5028 Ext. 2685/2681/2657/2650.

What is a small business?

A small business is defined as one whose assets, excluding the value of lands and buildings, does not exceed TT$1.5 million at the time the matter giving rise to the complaint has occurred.

Do I need a lawyer?

No. The Financial Services Ombudsman scheme is free to the customers of the participating commercial banks and insurance companies. The process is informal and is an alternative to going to court. In most cases you should not need any financial or legal expertise.

The Financial Services Ombudsman decides if your complaint is valid by looking at the facts of the case – not at the way your complaint is presented. If you do decide to employ a professional (for example, an attorney-at-law) to present your case on your behalf, you would have to pay the cost personally. The cost would not be refunded even if the Financial Services Ombudsman upholds your complaint.

Process

What type of complaints would the Ombudsman consider?

The Ombudsman will handle matters of transparency where terms of contract have not been met.

In case of banking complaints, she will not treat with matters relating to:

  • the general interest rate and risk policies concerning the granting of loans and
  • the pricing of products and services in the case of banking complaints
  • credit decisions
  • any transactions that occurred prior to January 1, 2003

In the case of insurance complaints, she will not treat with:

  • insurance premium rates and underwriting decisions
  • group pension plans and deposit administration schemes
  • actuarial calculations
  • surrender values and investment rates for life policies
  • alleged false or misleading marketing practices and
  • third party personal injury claims arising out of motor accident
  • any act or omission that took place prior to January 1, 2004

Can the Ombudsman consider complaints arising from the foreign operations of the financial institutions of Trinidad and Tobago?

No. The authority of the Ombudsman is limited to complaints pertaining to the Trinidad and Tobago operations of commercial banks and insurance companies.

How should the complaint be communicated?

Before the Ombudsman will consider complaints, the following guidelines must be adhered to:

The matter must have been first referred to the institution at which the complaint arose and the complainant is not satisfied;
The act or omission which forms the subject of a complaint must have first occurred on or after January 1, 2003 in the case of a banking complaint and after January 1, 2004 in the case of an insurance complaint;
The complaint must not be related to the institution’s general risk management policies or pricing or products and services;
The complaint shall be in writing duly signed by the complainant and his authorised representative, if any, on the prescribed form which can be obtained from the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman or downloaded by clicking on the Complaint Form.

Is there a ceiling on the award to a Complainant?

Yes, the Ombudsman may make an award to the Complainant, which shall not exceed TT$500,000.00. The award is to compensate for direct loss or damage that is considered to have been suffered by the Complainant.

How confidential is the process?

All personal information received from you or the financial institution will be handled with utmost confidentiality.

If I still remain dissatisfied with the matter after it has been determined by the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman, can I go to court?

The complainant is free, at any time during the process, to explore other options for resolution of his/her complaint including taking the matter to court. However, if the position of the Ombudsman has been agreed upon and a settlement received by the complainant in full and final settlement, the Office considers the matter closed.

Why do I have to put my complaint in writing?

To prevent any misunderstanding between the complainant and the Office or between the financial institution and the complainant, we must have all complaints in writing. In addition, we need you to sign the statements contained in the complaint form giving us the authority to obtain private and confidential information regarding your transactions conducted at your financial institution.

Can someone else complain on my behalf?

Yes. Anyone can complain on your behalf – for example, a member of your family or friend. Provision is made on the complaint form to accommodate such situation. If you appoint someone else to deal with your case, we need your written authority before we can discuss the details of your personal case with that person or obtain the information from your financial institution. In addition, we also need your representative to sign the form.

Are there any time limitations with regard to filing a complaint?

The complaint must be made to the Ombudsman no later than 180 days after the following

  • The Bank or Insurance company has completed its review and communicated its findings to the customer or
  • The Bank or Insurance company did not achieve a resolution by a time period determined by the Ombudsman and
  • The Bank or Insurance company has informed the Complainant, in writing, of the existence of the Ombudsman and of the time limitation.

The act or omission resulting in the complaint must have occurred on or after January 1, 2003 in the case of a banking complaint; and after January 1, 2004 in the case of an insurance complaint.

The customer may file a complaint for a problem occurring before those dates only if the complainant was not aware of it and could not have been made aware of it before those dates.

What happens if the bank or insurance company does not accept the recommendation of the Financial Services Ombudsman?

If you accept the recommendation of the Financial Services Ombudsman but the bank or insurance company does not, you may ask the Financial Services Ombudsman to make an Award. The Award is binding on the financial institution if accepted by the complainant. If not accepted by the bank or insurance company, the Ombudsman reports the matter to the Governor of the Central Bank.

Entities

Which are the participating non-bank financial institutions?

  • ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
  • Caribbean Finance Company Limited
  • Development Finance Limited
  • Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company Limited
  • Guardian Asset Management Limited
  • Island Finance Trinidad and Tobago Limited
  • Massy Finance GFC Limited
  • NCB Global Finance Limited

Which are the participating commercial banks?

The participating commercial banks and their licensed subsidiaries are:

  • Bank of Baroda (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited
  • Citibank (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited
      • Citicorp Merchant Bank Limited
  • First Caribbean International Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited
  • First Citizens
    • First Citizens Asset Management Limited
    • First Citizens Trustee Services
  • Intercommercial Bank Limited
    • Intercommercial Trust and Merchant Bank Limited
  • RBC Royal Bank (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited
    • RBC Merchant Bank Limited
    • RBC Trust Limited
  • Republic Bank Limited and
    • Republic Finance & Merchant Bank Limited
  • Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Limited
    • Scotiatrust and Merchant Bank Trinidad and Tobago Limited

Which are the participating insurance companies?

The participating insurance companies are:

  • Assuria Life (T&T) Ltd
  • Pan American Life Insurance Company Limited
  • Bancassurance Caribbean Limited (Guardian Group)
  • Bankers Insurance Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited
  • British American Insurance Company (Trinidad) Limited.
  • Capital Insurance Limited
  • Colonial Fire and General Insurance Company Limited
  • Colonial Life Insurance Company (Trinidad) Limited.
  • Cuna Caribbean Insurance Society Limited
  • Demerara Life Assurance Company Trinidad and Tobago Limited
  • Furness Anchorage General Insurance Limited
  • Nagico Industries
  • Guardian General Insurance Limited
  • Guardian Life of the Caribbean Limited
  • Gulf Insurance Limited
  • Maritime General Insurance Company Limited
  • Maritime Life Caribbean Limited
  • Massy United Insurance Company Limited
  • Motor and General Insurance Limited
  • Mega Insurance Company Limited
  • MotorOne Insurance Company Limited
  • Sagicor General Inc.
  • Sagicor Life Inc.
  • ScotiaLife Trinidad and Tobago Limited
  • Tatil Life Assurance Limited
  • The Beacon Insurance Company Limited
  • The Great Northern Insurance Company Limited
  • The New India Assurance Company Limited
  • The Presidential Insurance Company Limited
  • Trinidad and Tobago Insurance Limited
  • Trinre Insurance Company Limited