The Financial Ombudsman Service and The Pensions Ombudsman have finally signed a deal to clarify how complaints are dealt with after more than two years in the making.
FOS and TPO first said they were holding discussions over a new ‘memorandum of understanding’ in September 2015 after confusion over where their respective jurisdictions ended.
This has been a particular issue for Sipp complaints; the FOS will normally investigate complaints over pensions, including the suitability of pensions advice, but TPO can handle complaints over how individual pension arrangements, such as Sipps, are administered.
The crossover was bought into sharp relief when FOS and TPO rulings over Sipp provider Berkeley Burke’s responsibility for investor losses in unregulated collective investment schemes appeared to contradict each other.
Pensions Omubdsman Anthony Arter says: “This important document should ensure that the customer is aware where they can go to when they need help to resolve their pension complaints.”
The new memorandum outlines a series of example cases that would be fielded by each complaints adjudicator.
For examples TPO will deal with general pension transfer complaints, complaints about charges or fees, fund switches, pensions liberation and misquotes.
Complaints about advice to transfer from a defined benefit occupational scheme, take out an annuity or go into drawdown, or advice on Sipp investments, will go to the FOS.
However, it notes there are still areas of crossover, for example. FOS can consider complaints about administration of personal and group personal pensions, but not occupational scheme administration, which is left to TPO.
There is no limit on TPO awards, which may be a factor in which body takes the case, the memorandum says. Its time limits on cases are shorter, however, which could also come into play.
The memorandum, which also commits the FOS and TPO to refer cases to each other where appropriate, will be reviewed after 12 months.
The FCA will also launch a consultation for firms today on how they may be asked to signpost to both FOS and TPO.