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Watchdog staff get training to help advisers

The Financial Ombudsman Service is improving staff training for complaints handlers dealing with IFA cases as part of its drive to understand intermediaries and their clients better, according to Aifa.

Speaking at network Positive Solutions&#39 conference in London last week, Aifa director general Paul Smee said the move could save IFAs money wasted on case fees as complaints will be solved earlier.

The ombudsman says it recognises that IFAs have a more personal relationship with clients than multinational corporations and it must take emotional aspects into account when dealing with disputes.

For N2, the ombudsman will be offering a booklet to IFAs in smaller firms aimed at “demystifying the ombudsman”. It is also aiming to ease IFA fears about the service with a series of roadshows around the UK explaining how the service works.

The ombudsman says it does not want to be seen as the “regulatory police” and is aiming to convince IFAs that it is involved in reducing and solving complaints.

It says it recognises that some IFAs feel isolated and it is working with Aifa to increase its direct contact with advisers.

In the FOS annual report, chief ombudsman Walter Merricks says: “For a small firm of financial advisers, the value of a free dispute resolution service for its customers is more difficult to appreciate.

“For our part, in dealing with complaints from the customers of such firms, we take particular care to understand the background circumstances under which such disputes need to be resolved.”



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