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annual review 2010/2011

1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011

about this document

this publication contains facts, figures and information about our workload and complaints trends - for the year April 2010 to March 2011.

key facts about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We were set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to resolve individual disputes between consumers and financial businesses - fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.
  • We can handle complaints about a wide range of financial and money matters - from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit.
  • If a business doesn't resolve a consumer's complaint, we can step in to settle the dispute. But the business must have the chance to sort things out itself first.
  • We are independent and impartial. When we decide a complaint, we look carefully at both sides of the story and weigh up all the facts.
  • If we decide a business has treated a consumer fairly, we explain why. But if we decide the business has acted wrongly, we can order matters to be put right.
  • Our service is free to consumers.
  • Consumers do not have to accept any decision we make. They are free to go to court instead. But if they accept an ombudsman's decision, it is binding on both them and the business.
  • We do not write the rules for businesses providing financial services - or fine them if rules are broken. That is the job of the regulator.
  • Best practice in complaints handling includes learning lessons when disputes have arisen. So we also have a crucial role in sharing insights from the complaints we see. This gives consumers greater confidence in financial services - and helps businesses prevent future problems by learning from situations where things have gone wrong.

key figures about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We handled 1,012,371 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers - around 4,000 each working day.
  • Around 1 in 5 of the initial consumer enquiries we received turned into a formal dispute requiring the involvement of our adjudicators and ombudsmen - a record 206,121 new cases, up 26% on the previous year.
  • 51% of new cases were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI), with the number more than doubling to 104,597 - the highest number ever received in a year about a single financial product.
  • The number of investment-related complaints dropped by 30% and banking complaints fell by 9%.
  • 51% of the total number of cases we dealt with related to 4 financial services groups - while 3,592 businesses accounted for just 5% of our caseload.
  • We resolved 164,899 cases - fewer than planned, because of the legal action taken against us on PPI complaints.
  • Our involvement resulted in compensation for consumers in 51% of complaints.
  • We resolved almost half of all disputes (apart from PPI) within three months and three quarters within six months.
  • We operated on a cost-base of £106 million with an average staff of 1,300.
  • We provided information and handled enquiries in 49 different languages and formats - from British Sign Language to Sinhala, mpeg to Braille.
  • We took part in over 200 seminars, roadshows, exhibitions and events.
  • We handled 675 parliamentary enquiries and 16,706 calls to our technical advice desk.
  • We featured in 5,500 articles in the media - and 78% of adults in the UK said they were aware of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

All figures relate to the financial year 2010/2011.

an overview of how we handle cases

1,012,371 initial enquiries and complaints

handled by our customer-contact division

206,121 new cases

referred to our adjudicators and ombudsmen for further dispute-resolution work

147,434 cases resolved by our adjudicators

through mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications

17,465 cases resolved by our ombudsmen

making formal decisions at the final "appeal" stage of our dispute-resolution process

All figures relate to the financial year 2010/2011.