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FOS gets set to go public with final decisions

Principal ombudsman and legal director Caroline Wayman on decisions, claims firms and how firms need to up their game on complaints handling.

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FOS principal ombudsman and legal director Caroline Wayman

The Financial Ombudsman Service has set out how it will shine a light on its decision-making process as the number of complaints referred to the FOS reaches a record high.

Under the Financial Services Act 2012, the FOS is now required to publish its final decisions which will name the firm being complained about but not the complainant.

Speaking to Money Marketing, FOS principal ombudsman and legal director Caroline Wayman says preparations are underway to get the first group of decisions published in the next few months. The process allows consumers one month to accept or reject FOS decisions.

Wayman stresses the FOS is keen to represent cases fairly, and says this is something the FOS already takes into account when writing decisions and determining complaints.

She says: “Publishing final decisions means our formal decision-making process by our ombudsmen is there for all to see, and allows people to better understand our work. Inevitably, though, individual decisions will be based on individual facts, so will not always be the best place for us to provide a fuller explanation around our overall approach. We would urge people not to see this database as a replacement for our other online resources.”

The FOS’ annual review, published last week, reveals the FOS received 508,881 new cases in the year to the end of March, up 92 per cent from 264,375 cases the previous year.

Adviser complaints jumped 45 per cent from 2,857 to 4,139, though accounted for just 1 per cent of overall complaints.

Complaints about investment-linked products rose 42 per cent from 3,308 to 4,697. The bulk of these related to mortgage endowments, with half the endowment complaints being time-barred.

The proportion of complaints brought by claims management firms, mainly relating to payment protection insurance, has fallen slightly over the last year, from 46.5 per cent to 45 per cent. The FOS says it has referred claims firms to the Ministry of Justice where they are seen to be “acting unreasonably”.

Wayman says: “Sometimes we see claims managers who have taken upfront fees from people who clearly never had a PPI policy. That is not something we can deal with as a complaint but we do draw that to the attention of the MoJ. We will also report other firms to the FCA where they are not complying with their complaints handling obligations.”

Wayman says while some firms use complaints to inform areas for improvement, others are “still too slow to recognise when something has gone wrong”.

She says this is particularly the case with PPI complaints, and increasingly with complaints about mortgages.

Wayman says: “These cases are not necessarily related to something technical, or even about people being owed lots in compensation. Our experience is there is room for improvement in the way both PPI and mortgage complaints are handled. Firms need to take the time to ensure they have sensible lines of communication and that people are being given proper explanations, rather than firms being bureaucratic or becoming entrenched in positions.”

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Comments

There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Victor Meldrew 6th June 2013 at 9:59 am

    Have FOS thought this through? Do they really want to expose their decisions to public scrutiny? In particular the fabricated reasoning used to try and make all sales of MPPI a missale regardless of how it was sold or who sold it and despite the FSA still approving the product and allowing its sale. Who is the regulator?

  2. The FOS decision-making is so bizarre and unrepresentative of common-sense that I guess they will be particularly careful which cases they expose to scrutiny.

    Answer to Victor….FOS is a regulator without any legal sanction.

  3. Madness, what are we trying to achieve here ? Consumer confidence in financial services or fuel for the compensation culture fire we seem to have burning out of control ?

  4. Hampshire Yokel 6th June 2013 at 12:07 pm

    In the year to 31/03/2013 there were 508,881 complaints, a significant rise on the year before. So, if the same number are received this year, does this mean there are going to be 508,881 published? That would appear to be over 2,000 final decisions per ordinary working day.

    Really?

    Would this not prove too unweildy?

    Or do they propose to only publish those that were found in favour of the complainant?

  5. I was flabberghasted earlier this year to find the FOS stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition handing out information to people and touting their “service”.
    Can they honestly say that this activity is a useful way to spend money when they seem unable to deal with their current workload. Do they really have to go fishing for business. They are an out of control business obsessed with their own growth and power with little if any regard for the damage they cause to our industry.

  6. Anonymous 12.29 has hit on another unsavoury antic of this bunch of unqualified, law-breaking bureaucrats.

    They incite complaints and far from being ‘independent’ they champion every fraudster and seek to grasp funds for compensation, add 8% interest and then add the alarming bonus which they term ‘for distress’.

  7. I have two concerns regarding this self publicity stunt.
    1. Are they going to ‘filter’ the final decisions being printed or are they going to print all final decisions.
    If it is the latter then it will be interesting to read any comments on the lack of legal or common sense justification for upholding far too many complaints.

    2. This will then provide a great deal of assistance to all those low life ambulance chasers out there by showing them exactly what they need to say to win a decision; whether it has any basis in truth is a totally different matter

  8. Garry Anderson 13th June 2013 at 9:24 pm

    We have just gone through the FOS process. Barclays falsified our complaint about them, altering it from mass fraud and churning to that of mis-selling. The FOS did exactly the same. This is fact – I won official complaint against the FSA for ‘lack of integrity’ for doing the same. They are all corrupt – this is all documented.

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