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&#39Watchdog will make industry play catch-up&#39

The rest of the industry will have to play catch-up to meet IFA standards when the new financial ombudsman scheme comes into force next year, says a spokesman for the service.

The current PIA ombudsman scheme, which includes IFAs, is being used as the template for much of the regulatory structure of the new scheme, which officially beg ins at N2 when the FSA receives its full powers.

Financial Ombudsman Ser vice spokesman David Cress well says the now finalised complaint handling rules will not mean much change for IFA firms because of the agg ressive nature of the ombudsman scheme they already operate under. For other players in the industry such as general insurers, banks and building societies there are fundamental changes in the way they handle consumer complaints.

Membership to existing ombudsman schemes for these sections of the marketplace has never been compulsory and small businesses have not previously been able to seek redress from the ombudsman. Both are inclu ded under the new service.

For IFAs, these requirements already exist.Cresswell says: “While it is not a new world for IFAs, it will be for general insurance, banks and building societies. There will not be that much change as far as consumers are concerned and not that much change as far as IFAs are concerned.”

Aifa director of public affairs Tracey Mullins says: “For IFAs the rules will be similar. We hope paperwork reporting will cut back on office visits which are more time consuming and more stressful.”

LIA spokesman John Ellis says: “It will be quite interesting to see how much work other players in the industry will have to do to come up to the standards of the PIA ombudsman service.”

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