UK's Chief Financial Ombudsman to step down

LONDON Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:16pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Financial Ombudsman Service said Natalie Ceeney is to step down as chief executive after four years, during which she oversaw a massive expansion to deal with complaints about the mis-selling of loan insurance by banks.

The ombudsman service, which steps in to settle cases where financial services firms and their customers cannot reach an agreement, has trebled in size under Ceeney's leadership. It now deals with an annual workload of over 500,000 cases compared with 150,000 when she joined.

The majority of those cases are complaints about the mis-selling of payment protection insurance - a scandal that has cost banks over 17 billion pounds ($27 billion) in compensation, making it the most expensive consumer finance scandal ever in Britain.

The policies were meant to protect borrowers who found themselves out of work because of sickness or redundancy but were often sold to customers who did not want or need them.

"Natalie feels that now is the time for her to move on - as the ombudsman service itself starts out on a new set of challenges, building on the foundations for change laid under Natalie's leadership," the ombudsman's chairman Nicholas Montague said in a statement on Friday.

Deputy chief ombudsman Tony Boorman will run the service until further notice, he said.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Steve Slater and Jane Merriman)

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