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Aifa wants small firm focus for ombudsman

Aifa has called on the Financial Ombudsman Service to set up a separate small firms division to focus on the particular needs of IFAs.

In its submission to the FOS funding consultation paper, Aifa says the FOS should mirror the FSA in setting up a small firms division to provide greater flexibility and a better service to firms not accustomed to dealing with the ombudsman.

Aifa says the current model penalises smaller firms which get few complaints while being supportive of bigger, more frequent users.

It recommends work is undertaken to estimate any costs associated with such a move in tandem with the current funding debate.

Aifa director general Chris Cummings says: “Smaller firms are unused to dealing with the FOS and many find it difficult to present their case in the way in which the service requires.”

FOS spokeswoman Emma Parker says: “We already have specialist teams to deal with small firms such as advisers although it is not labelled in this way.”

Aifa’s submission also confirms its preference for funding option H, with an annual flat fee and 10 free cases, and calls on complainants to pay a refundable fee, following the Tories’ pre-election policy.

Edeus has revealed that over 50 individual distributors will sit on its packager panel, despite vehemently criticising the sector in the past.

The move has been met with surprise from some sections of the market, given that Edeus chief executive Michael Bolton and managing director Alan Cleary have been so damning about the state of the packager sector over the past 18 months.

The message has been more conciliatory since it became clear that Edeus would use packagers, with Bolton recently saying he was only against “bad packagers”.

The Edeus list includes members of packager groups, the Alliance of Mortgage Packagers and Distributors, Freefold and the Professional Mortgage Packagers’ Alliance, as well as other big names in the industry.

The only notable absentees include members of packager group Ramp and The Mortgage Times.

Ramp managing director John Rice says: “I am surprised at the number of packagers as Edeus has been critical of the market. We would have thought that packagers need to exercise caution.”

One unnamed packager says: “Bolton has described us as used car salesmen and tried to put us out of business yet the list is extensive so it is very odd.”

Edeus director of national accounts Peter Charge says: “We have gone on record as having reservations over some, but certainly not all, packagers.”

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