A Confidential Service for Bankers:
The FDIC Office of the Ombudsman
The concept is an old one that dates to at least the mid-1800s, when the Swedish Parliament created an “ombudsman.” An ombudsman is an intermediary or facilitator of communication between industries or the public and government institutions. Upon request, an ombudsman keeps all information, including the source of an inquiry, totally confidential. Ombudsmen are impartial in determination of outcomes. The FDIC has an office of the ombudsman to serve the banking community. When might a banker call the FDIC Ombudsman? Here’s an example:
An attorney called the office of the ombudsman to gather general information about the FDIC’s examination process (e.g. How often are banks examined? Who gives the authority to examine banks? What bank information does the FDIC review? What are the reporting requirements for banks?). The attorney was particularly interested in the “One-Man Bank” concept. After answering all questions that were posed, the attorney disclosed the purpose of the call. A bank officer had come to the attorney for counsel regarding the way the bank’s president, chairman of the board, and majority shareholder was operating the bank and requiring the officer to perform his duties. Because the attorney was seeking guidance on One-Man Banks and the FDIC’s evaluation methods for management, the attorney was directed to the external FDIC Web site where the FDIC Bank Examination Manual gives an in-depth description of both. The attorney was pleased to find a relevant source of information about the issues and agreed to call back if the Web site was not thoroughly responsive to the client’s needs.
If you need confidential assistance with a regulatory question, issue or problem, call the FDIC Office of the Ombudsman at (877) 275-3342. Choose Option 3 or ask an Information Receptionist to transfer you to the office of the ombudsman.