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The ethics of remediation

You work at an advice business that is just starting a program to repay customers that may have been overcharged for advice services or for poor advice. In order to select which customers' cases should be assessed, the program director has worked out a filtering process, focusing on customers of advisers that had the most complaints made against them in the past seven years. You're concerned that the filtering is too rigorous, and that many other customers might be missing out on having their cases assessed. However, you're also aware that the program has to start somewhere, and with limited resources needs to prioritise certain cases.
Do you risk questioning the filtering process, and letting the program manager know that it might be excluding too many customers who need to have their cases reviewed? How would you set the filters, with limited resources - time and money? 

What would you do?

We encourage you to post your answers in the comments so we can create a healthy discussion, with the aim of learning from our peers, becoming aware of differing perspectives and challenging our own biases. 

Please share your ethical dilemmas with us - we can post them anonymously. You can email your dilemmas to dilemma@thebfo.org


Ian Shaw on Thursday, 12 Sep 2019
All customers deserve to be compensated. If the lower filter is set at a level of say $20 and instead of a great deal of work being applied to calculating the exact amount of the remediation, each of those customers is given a credit of $20 it would save the business a great deal of work and anxiety. The limit can be moved but the principle remains tge same. Customers above the limit should have their actual or estimated loss calculated and they should be fully remediated.
Stephen Taylor on Thursday, 12 Sep 2019
Complaints are a good source of feedback for helping an organisation read where customers don't think they're getting fair value or service. But as a sole indicator of overcharging or poor advice, they may raise too many false positives about the quality of the advice or the level of charging. The risk the program manager may not have appreciated is that may result in the limited resources being wasted on not delivering any value to the exercise or customers. Raising that concern and acknowledging the validity of complaint data would not be rejected by a reasonable program manager. Understanding the limitations the business's systems may have to identify impacted customers using other means, may make it challenging to use other metrics. That said, a useful approach may involve overlaying the complaints data with metrics like: compliance ratings, proportion of fees to customer portfolio value, complexity of investments and the level of fees charged, product/strategy areas where there is a high risk of poor advice and frequency of customer reviews performed by advisers. There's no easy way of identifying the customers most at need, but exploring the available options and limitations will help deliver a better outcome for customers.

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