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Merricks quits as FOS chief after 10 years

Chief ombudsman Walter Merricks is to step down from his role at the Financial Ombudsman Service after 10 years in the post.

Merricks, who helped to set up the FOS, will become the first chair of the Office of the Health Professions Adjudicator, a new organisation.

Under his tenure, the FOS has handled over five million consumer enquiries and resolved 750,000 disputes between consumers and financial businesses.

He says: “The ombudsman service has found a permanent place in the consumer-protection framework for financial services and I am confident that the organisation will continue to be valued by financial firms and by consumers alike.”

Jamieson Financial Management principal Bruce Jamieson says: “I have not been impressed by the ombudsman service at all. They do not seem to behave even-handedly on investment inquiries.”

Capital Asset Management managing director Alan Smith says: “I think he has actually shown some good leadership over some difficult times.”

Brunning Newman Houghton director David Brunn- ing says: “He was even-han- ded and did not seem to be swayed by political actions or kneejerk decisions. It would be very bad with a hard-line political appointee rather than another equitable, fair-minded person.”

Beachcroft Regulatory Consulting managing director Richard Hobbs says the obvious internal candidate would be Tony Boorman.

He says: “The debate will be over whether Merricks’ successor should be lawyer or not. It should be a layperson, in my view.”

The non-executive FOS board will start the process to find a replacement shortly.

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  1. Is the FOS legal?
    Lord Hunt published The Hunt Review, entitled, ‘The Independent Review of the Financial Ombudsman Service,’ on 9th April 2008 and in it he highlighted that: “This (the British and Irish Ombudsman Service) is clearly an area of contested legal interpretations, which may well ultimately be tested by the courts.”

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