More clients make use of the Banking Ombudsman’s services.

  • The number of enquiries and requests for mediation is increasing.
  • Investment losses result in additional cases for the Banking Ombudsman.
  • The trend towards more card fraud continues.

Zurich, 22 May 2024.At its Annual Media Conference, the Swiss Banking Ombudsman describes the year 2023, particularly spring 2023, as a turbulent and busy time. The stock market in the year 2022 has disappointed many investors, which in turn translates into rising case numbers in the area of investment advice and asset management. The trend towards more fraud cases also persisted. 

Increase in enquiries and requests for mediation
The Ombudsman’s office dealt with a total of 2’360 cases in the reporting year. 1’489 were oral (+14%) and 871 written cases (+24%). Most of the issues were clarified and resolved directly with the clients. In 303 cases, the Ombudsman intervened with the financial institution in question and proposed specific solutions in 207 cases. In 95% of the cases, the bank followed the Ombudsman’s recommendation and accommodated the clients. “The high acceptance of our proposals underscores the good working relationship with the banks and proves that the Ombudsman’s office is perceived as a competent mediator”, says Andreas Barfuss. 

Investment advice and asset management
The year 2022 was generally a bad year for investors. Practically all asset classes suffered losses. As expected, this led to an increase in the number of complaints in concerning investment advice and asset management in the year under review.  

Experience from this year once again shows that the opportunities and risks of an investment lie first with the client,” emphasizes Andreas Barfuss. If an investor incurs losses, it is unlikely that he will receive compensation from the bank. A financial services provider may be liable if it has breached the duty of care or loyalty owed to the client and a loss has been incurred as a result thereof. Regarding the Financial services Act (FinSA) introduced in 2020, the Banking Ombudsman noted that investment transactions with financial services providers were better documented. 

Ongoing increase of fraud cases
The trend toward more card fraud observed last year continues in the year under review”, regrets Andreas Barfuss. Experience and exchanges with foreign Ombudsman offices have shown that the methods used by fraudsters are becoming technologically and psychologically more sophisticated. It is also becoming increasingly clear that criminals identified the people as the weak link and do not, or at least not successfully, target the card issuer’s technical systems. It is generally the clients themselves who are induced to make payments or charge their credit and debit cards to the fraudsters. Accordingly, clients would normally have to bear the losses arising from such incidents themselves. 

Prevention is essential”, stresses the Ombudsman and reiterates his recommendation to clients to take the relevant information and warnings from the authorities, financial businesses, and consumer protection organisations seriously and to follow them. 

Despite the many challenges, Andreas Barfuss takes a positive view of the Banking Ombudsman’s institution for 2023 and states: “Despite the sharp increase in case numbers in the year under review, we have succeeded in handling client complaints in the usual quality and processing time.” The real value of an Ombudsman’s office is especially evident in turbulent times. He looks forward to continuing this important task together with his team professionally, impartially and responsibly.

Press release
Annual Report 2023 (in German)
Annual Report 2023 (in French)
2023 in Brief
Pictures Andreas Barfuss