Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist


These banks are the best at resolving complaints – Ombudsman

Reana Steyn, the ombudsman, chose the winning banks based on their cooperation with her office in resolving customers’ complaints.


The Ombudsman for Banking Services announced which banks are the best at resolving complaints and which bank staffers gave the best service.

Unfortunately, this was the last ceremony of its kind after being held for the past 17 years, as a new ombudsman scheme for the financial services industry comes into effect next year on 1 March, when the four voluntary financial ombud schemes—the Ombudsman for Banking Services, the Long-term Insurance Ombudsman, the Credit Ombud and the Short-Term Insurance Ombudsman—will combine into a single new entity.

The best bank for resolving complaints

There were two categories for banks: one of the big banks and one for the smaller banks in the OBS Annual Banking Awards. For both categories, the criteria were:

  • The quality of the bank’s written replies to the office in response to specific complaints
  • The response time and
  • The overall fairness of the response.

The nominees in the category for big banks were ABSA, FNB and Standard Bank. The 2023 award went to FNB. In the category for smaller banks, the nominees were Investec, Postbank and Access Bank. Investec was the winner.

ALSO READ: Here’s what you can learn from the most common banking complaints

The best bank staffer

The ombudsman also recognised individual effort with an award for bank staff members who impressed with their consistently excellent service. The criteria were:

  • Treating all complainants with equal dignity and respect and affording all complaints the necessary level of attention
  • Providing prompt and efficient service to the complainant and the ombudsman
  • Initiating and/or improving measures and/or service level agreements to enhance their bank’s level of service in complaint handling and
  • Being knowledgeable about the bank’s products, service and processes, including internal complaint handling mechanisms as well as those of the ombudsman.

The winners were Karen Jonker from ABSA and Elias Mier from Postbank.

For several years, the ceremony also included an award for a staff member from the ombudsman’s office to honour the employee who represents the ombudsman’s internal and cultural values and who is judged by his or her peers to go beyond the call of duty. The 2023 staff member winner was Palesa Zwane. 

“This has always been the highlight for me because this nomination is about our employees recognising one another. It is about the team member, as voted for by the team. I am proud to congratulate Palesa as this year’s winning staff member,” Steyn said.

“Inasmuch as the office functioned as an independent non-profit organisation and the banks recognised the authority of the ombudsman, the work that we do and the work ombudsmen under the new system will do, cannot be fully accomplished without the co-operation of all the banks involved.”

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