Nicola Sladden

Nicola Sladden 2

Banking Ombudsman

Last Year – 31

Running a small team at the banking ombudsman office has seen Nicola Sladden faced with a range of complaints involving the Big Four banks, but also an alarming increase in investment scams and related issues.

Her office received a 63 percent increase in scam complaints reported in the latest financial year. Combined data from New Zealand banks shows customers lost $183.5 million to scams from October 2021 to September 2022 – a 40 percent increase from the previous year. The banking ombudsman scheme says the true value of the impact of scams may be much higher, as many losses are not reported.

A reduction in the number of lending complaints this year following the introduction of amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, requiring scrutinising of customer expenses, largely due to a reduction in home lending with the economic slowdown.

However there has been little slowdown in bank complaints with 94,000 complaints made to Sladden’s office in the year to March 2022 with around 25,000 settled with a ‘financial remedy’.

There remains uncertainty about complaint procedures with banking issues generally and the different courses of action open to aggrieved customers, as well as confidentiality agreements to prevent disclosure of the precise nature of complaints.  But the scope of the industry and its application to New Zealanders make the role of banking ombudsman one that carries significant influence.

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