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Friends says appeals may pose threat

The Financial Ombudsman Service should not introduce an appeal process as it could undermine the service and damage its reputation, says Friends Provident.

In its response to the Hunt review, Friends says while there may be value in looking at the wider implication process to ensure issues of concern can be raised, there has to be a final decision made at some stage.

Its submission says: “We certainly have occasional cases where we are unhappy with a decision but feel the value of FOS as it is outweighs the disadvantages.”

Friends argues that naming and shaming firms which get complaints causes more harm than good. It argues that it may pressure the firms to change their approach but it also creates and perpetuates a negative impression on the whole sector, including those who are achieving the right standards.

It says: “We do not feel it is appropriate for the FOS to publish the outcomes for individual businesses. If a firm is not following the FSA rules, then the FOS should refer them to the FSA.

“Publication by the FOS would lead to a much higher degree of argument with the FOS and firms much less likely to accept their judgement on a case without further discussion thereby lengthening the time taken to reach a conclusion.”

The firm agrees a 15-year long-stop for raising complaints is needed, saying it would provide greater financial certainty to advisory firms but adds that the FOS should stay free for consumers.

It says: “This is the correct approach and is a key in its accessibility. We believe it is reasonable for a customer to incur phone call charges to the FOS at local rates and would not support the introduction of a free phone number. The customer does not contribute towards any other cost.”


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