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Ombudsman insists he is not the consumer’s champion

The Financial Ombudsman Service is neither a champion for consumers nor an apologist for the industry, says chief ombudsman Walter Merricks.

Writing in the May issue of Ombudsman News, Merricks describes the permanent identity crisis of his organisation and the difficulty of treading a path between consumer and industry perceptions.

He stresses the impartiality of the ombudsman and says he has been left scratching his head by the radically different attitudes shown towards the ombudsman by the trade press and national consumer journalists.

Merricks says: “On the one side, journalists from publications aimed at IFAs wanted to know how I could defend an organisation that was virtually taking the bread out of advisers’ mouths, destroying the livelihoods of small firms and regularly breaching their human rights.

“A few days later, meeting personal finance journalists, I was asked why do not we use our clout to condemn more publicly the disgracefully unjust behaviour of firms, both large and small, towards consumers.”

“In our publicity, we stress our independence and impartiality. We say we are neither a champion for consumers nor an apologist for the industry.”

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