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FOS refuses to reveal level of staff qualifications

The Financial Ombudsman Service has refused to disclose the qualifications held by its staff, saying financial qualifications do not necessarily make people good adjudicators.

Last week, Money Marketing revealed low levels of advice skills in the FSA’s small firms and contact division.

This prompted calls from IFAs for the FOS to disclose the financial services qualifications held by its adjudicators. But an FOS spokeswoman says ombudsman staff have a “wide range of specialist qualifications and experience” that fit their roles but financial qualifications are not necessarily required.

Unlike the FSA, the FOS is not required to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act.

She says: “Qualifications and financial industry experience alone do not necessarily make someone a good adjudicator. Our staff need to have the ability to investigate and resolve complaints fairly and impartially to the highest standards.”


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There are 22 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. We must be the only industry that is treated as second class citizens. Can you imagine the disciplinary panel of the Law Society or General Medical Council made up of people without relevant qualifications or experience – no neither can I as they wouldnt stand for it.

  2. Surprise surprise!

    (The Financial Ombudsman Service has refused to disclose the qualifications held by its staff, saying financial qualifications do not necessarily make people good adjudicators)

    Reams of exams don’t necessarily make you a good financial adviser, but hey, the CII need their exam income and the Banks want to decimate the IFA sector!

    Its getting worse by the day isn’t it?

  3. Our staff need to have the ability to investigate and resolve complaints fairly and impartially to the highest standards.”
    And the best complaint wins an IPad!!

  4. The real crime is not the FOS refusing to provide information – it is that they are, in fact, beyond the law. of the land

  5. So, if qualifications aren’t imporrtant, how are FOS staff able to understand the intricacies of the dodgy products mis-sold by the banks? Agreed, adjudication is a separate skill, but they also need to know the structure and application of financial products.
    Perhaps FOS could encourage its staff to pass exams by offering iPads as incentives.

  6. The FOS are employing temporary contract staff from well known outsourcing firms in a n attempt to reduce their backlog, the number of temp staff is well over 100. Theseis these people are paid piece meal for the number of closures and they have got so desperate they for numbers they recently took on school leavers with no experience. This is an outrage no qualifications no experience and costing £300 per person per day to the outsourcing firms!!!!

  7. If qualifications do not make a good adjudicator,why is the same logic not being applied to adviser qualifications?
    Don’t ask, it’s a case of one rule for FOS/FSA another for IFA’s.
    They really cannot see how illogical their arguments are, can they?

  8. I think most IFAs have already worked the qualifications held by the FOS staff by just looking at the unprofessional way it operates.

    I would also want to keep it quiet if my only qualifications were a CSE in woodwork & a one length swimming certificate.

  9. paolo standerwick 27th August 2010 at 9:50 am

    An X-FOS adjudicator words to me were “I didn’t spend 6 years getting a law degree and a masters degree in disputes resolution and commercial mediation to come and work alongside a bunch of f*cking idiots, hence I am taking the early redundancy offer”.

  10. Any one who has had dealings with the FOS will know that their staff are illiterate as far as finacial products concerned. They have no qualifications because they dont need them they use the old tick box method to decide that the complaint is justified!!!!A full review of their procedures training and experience should be undertaken

  11. In fairness to the contractors brought in – the vast majority of them are ex IFAs/life company employees and have many years of adjudication experience across endowments/serps opt out/bank charges/pension mis-selling/ppi etc etc.

    (spot the contractor – ha ha)

  12. I have asked this question informally and formally by FOI and they do not fall under the requirment as you say but they to fall under the act from October 2010.

    I have been told that they have 100’s of temps who are “adjudicators” who know nothing about FS but are given “training”.

    It is clear from the replies I have seen that they do not know or understand the first principals of investment at all.

    They are badly run very very wasteful of time and the case I have submitted for a client has taken nearly 2 years to get almost nowhere.

  13. Further to anonymous at 9.33am; yes one firm is paying piece meal (£140 per case) and the other a flat rate (£210 p.d.).

    So we can guess that some are managing to fully investigate,adjudicate and report back comprehensively in approx 4-5 hours.

    Do people think this is reasonable?

  14. This says it all. Qualifications not needed, but can bankrupt an IFA who probably have taken all sorts of exams over the years and after 2012 will not be able to practice without more exams. I just feel there are secret meetings between the FSA/FOS/FSCS/Heads of Banks and the government on a Friday night in some expensive hotel sipping champagne and canapes deciding the next step to get rid of IFA,s(yes I am sure I am paranoid)

  15. To AP my beef is that working Piece Meal on cases is not good practice, target driven practices are not allowed in sales so why in complaints and I think you are indicating that those on piece meal are not as thorough as those who are paid a flat rate – I have personal experience of the rush to complete cases having seen this myself over viewing projects.

    Your description of these contractor workers is somewhat rose-tinted I know the majority are FPC qualified with little else, the quality Compliance consultants with more qualifications such as G60 are paid more for specialists roles.

    My point about £300 a day is that is what it probably costs the FOS because the Outsourcing companies take their slice on top of what you all get paid. Also these companies place people to make money they don’t care about the quality of the individual.

  16. The automatic assumption has to be, as reflected by all posts thus far, that the answer is little to none.

    Which is probably about the same as the answer to the question put to the FSA, which it also wriggled out of answering (despite the lie on its website about being an open and transparent regulator), about the legal opinion it received regarding denial to the IFA community of the 15 year longstop for complaints.

    The 15 year longstop is the Law of the Land, so the denial of that protection to the IFA community is manifestly acting outside the Law. So not only is the FSA neither an open or transparent regulator, but here is proof, were any needed, that it has no regard for UK Law either.

    The FSA’s response to this is simple: Pay up or pack up.

  17. Over the years I have been amazed how poor their grasp of fundamental issues is, be afraid.

  18. The clue to all this was in the advertisement for a new Chief Ombudsman.

    “Legal experience not essential”.

  19. To Julian Stevens | 27 Aug 2010 11:42 am
    who said “The FSA’s response to this is simple: Pay up or pack up.”

    Oh Julian, if only it were that simple. I’ve retired as an IFA yet still get hounded by the FOS – most recently on a mortgage case that pre-dates the FSACt 1986.

    In the immortal words of the Eagles song Hotel California “’we are all just prisoners here, of our own device……..You can checkout any time you like,
    But you can never leave! “

  20. A friend of mine has joined the fos recently, he does have experience in complaint handling in FS so he’ll be highly qualified then

  21. I have it in writing from one of my many case handlers over a 15 month period that paying off extra on my mortgage will not save me any money.

    I think a five year old would know better than that.

  22. My word, so many comments on here. Looks like a mixture of disgrunted IFA’s – and CMC’s who are not getting enough quick upholds to earn their commissions on the often vexatious cases they submit.

    The FOS need to be reflective of the people in our society and in my experience the organisation is made up of adjudicators with a wide range of skills, backgrounds and qualifications. For example, those with complaint handling and customer service backgrounds are just as effective as those with legal qualifications as a large part of the role is dealing with difficult people. You won’t find many of those with legal degrees or insurance/banking qualifications. The fact is many of their staff are regularly cross trained into different product areas so it is not essential to have a long list of qualifications. It is much more about experience. You just need to be reasonably intelligent, have an ability to write and communicate clearly and be adaptable and organised.

    Would the FOS be any more effective if it had 1,000 law graduates who had no work experience as as adjudicators?

    Of course not.

    So the qualifications question is pretty pointless and no doubt the request to have this information was made by someone who has no understanding of the work of the FOS which cannot be compared to the FSA.

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