The Government creates the Financial Customer Defense Authority

The Executive has given the green light this Tuesday to the creation of the Independent Authority for the Defense of Financial Clientsa new body that will be in charge of the “resolution of disputes between clients and financial institutions” and will be able to make binding decisions, as explained by the First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño.

Complaining to the new authority will be free, “easy access” -both in person and by electronic means- and will not require a lawyer. It will resolve the claim within a maximum period of 90 days, except in exceptional cases, and the resolution will be binding for the financial institution when the amount claimed is less than 20,000 euros. “It is a very important change with respect to the current situation”, the vice president recalled, since the current mechanisms were not binding.

With the approval of this bill the claim services that exist in other bodies will be unified such as the Bank of Spain or the National Securities Market Commission and the General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds. After the first step on Tuesday, it will be in public hearing for five months, and the Government expects its approval as a bill “in the second part of the year.”

It will urge banks to improve care for the elderly

The bill, “long awaited by the public,” according to Calviño, arrives years late. The banking sector is the one that receives the most complaints from citizens, the minister recalled, and gives rise to a “great litigation”. He has recalled, for example, cases such as the preferential or floor clauses, which have collapsed the courts over the years.

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The law will urge financial institutions to improve the quality of customer service, especially the older ones and to vulnerable groups. It will also act in the field of financial education, both at school and later. The measure comes shortly after the campaign against financial exclusion ‘I am older, not an idiot’, which demanded humane treatment for the elderly in branches, and which achieved the approval of a new protocol by financial employers.

The new authority will be financed by the banks themselves, which will contribute 250 euros for each claim, which will mean an “incentive” for its claim services to resolve in an “agile” manner without having to go to the next step, which involves resorting to the newly created body. Entities that fail to comply will be sanctioned with a fine.

In the governing council of the body there will be representatives of the Bank of Spain or the National Securities Market Commission and the General Directorate of Insurance and Pension Funds, the organizations that already had similar services. Citizens will still be able to go to court if they are not satisfied with the Authority’s decisions.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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