And so we come to the end of 2014, one of the busiest years we’ve had. It was also a year of change for the industry at large, mostly instituted through legislative changes such as the National Credit Amendment Act and industry changes such as the proposed affordability assessment guidelines and the African Bank saga. As a result, we have had to go through our own metamorphosis in order to be fit for business going forward.
I firstly would like to announce the appointment of Nicky Lala-Mohan as Credit Ombud designate. Nicky, who is no stranger to this office, previously held the position as our Council’s Chairperson and will assume his duties on 1 February 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Nicky on his appointment and wish him all the best as he moves this office forward. Read our Expert Opinion section in order to get to know Nicky better.
We have had to streamline our operations in order to be in a position to provide a better service to our stakeholders. As a result, the Credit Information Department and the Non-bank Credit Department have been merged into one Case Management Department, which will be headed by Reana Steyn. This move will enable us to better utilize our in-house resources and expertise, with the added benefit of quicker turnaround times in the work we do.
Our Training Department has also been affected by the changes and we will no longer have a Training Co-ordinator going forward. The education stream of our organisation will still be operating as usual under the helm of Neo Loeto.
We have had to say goodbye to Cynthia Matshiakgotshi as a result of these changes. The hard work and dedication she gave during her time at the Credit Ombud’s office is much appreciated and we wish her well in her future endeavours.
The Council’s Governance Sub-Committee has been hard at work reviewing our organisational policies. The Human Resources, Information Technology, Communications, Finance and Dispute Management policies have been approved. This is yet another step in ensuring that our organisation is fit for business and has a sound framework in place.
I attended the International Ombudsman Conference which took place in Trinidad and Tobago in early October. From our interactions with ombudsmen from other countries, it is very evident that the work our office does is essential and we come out head and shoulders when compared to similar offices internationally.
In the last quarter, our call centre dealt with 8 489 calls, bringing the total to 25 677 calls received year to date. This is an increase of about 24% when compared to the same period last year. We opened 1 543 and closed 2 105 disputes by the end of the third quarter. This translates into slight decreases of 2.92% in the disputes opened and 3.17% in the disputes closed when compared to the previous year.
Our office will close on 24 December 2014 and reopen on 5 January 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well as you take the time to be with loved ones during the festive season.
Keep safe and enjoy the well deserved break!
Manie van Schalkwyk