IFAs have called for Financial Ombudsman Service adjudicators to have industry experience and minimum industry qualifications, in a survey by PanaceaIFA.com.
The survey shows nearly 99 per cent of advisers surveyed agreed with the call with 92 per cent saying the Ombudsman did not have a solid understanding of the issues it considers.
PanaceaIFA chief executive Derek Bradley (pictured) says: “The Personal Investment Authority Ombudsman operated to industry qualification levels but the FOS, despite being advised to, does not. Competent staff are vital and would help improve the service for customers and advisers.”
A FOS spokesman says: “Staff are recruited on the basis of a range of criteria including, as appropriate, specialist qualifications and experience. However, qualifications and financial industry experience alone do not necessarily make someone a good adjudicator, staff also need to be able to investigate and resolve complaints fairly and impartially.”
PanaceaIFA surveyed 302 of its members, 90 per cent of whom thought the lack of a long-stop was “unreasonable and unfair”. The results have been passed to Treasury select committee member Mark Garnier who, along with the rest of the committee is working on a report into the RDR.
In March FSA chief executive Hector Sants told the TSC the FSA would be willing to revisit the long-stop issue if the committee recommends it should. The report is expected next month.
Garnier says: “Unofficially my colleagues on the committee were pleased to hear Sants make his comments. It is an interesting survey and its good to know how advisers feel about this as we put our report together.”
The survey says 90 of respondents said the FOS rules place IFAs at a disadvantage from the outset of the adjudication process with 82 per cent saying the Ombudsman’s decisions are generally unfair and 64 per cent saying they had faced manufactured accusations from people attempting to gain compensation.
Just 5 per cent voted to keep the status quo which sees the defending firm paying case fees after three uncharged cases a year regardless of the outcome.
It says 97 per cent of advisers want complainants to produce relevant tangible evidence supporting their claim to an institution like the small claims court before it can be considered by the FOS.