and mortgage intermediaries
and mortgage intermediaries have the option of being covered by
our service from April 2003. We do not expect the majority to
join until October 2004, when they become authorised by the FSA.
But we need to prepare ourselves for their entry. At present,
our database of firms covered by the ombudsman service comprises
around 10,000 authorised firms and 32,000 appointed representatives.
We estimate the number of potential new firms those not
covered at present to be in the region of 35,000, so the
entry of insurance and mortgage intermediaries will have a significant
effect on the overall number of participating firms.
work in assessing and resolving complaints involves dealing with
large amounts of correspondence and other documents from customers
and firms. We plan to reduce our dependence on paper files by starting
to scan material into our electronic database and to exchange information
electronically wherever possible. During the coming year we aim
to build and pilot-test a secure electronic information exchange
with one or two large firms, with a view to making this more widely
available in due course.
decision to move away from casework divisions structured around
the former ombudsman schemes led to our setting up a knowledge
management project. Our new casework structure requires our
staff to develop their skills in dealing with complaints about a
variety of products. We will use knowledge management to create
an easily-accessible knowledge base. This will help staff build
on their existing expertise and develop a full understanding of
those areas and issues that had previously been less familiar to
them. Knowledge management will also help us to ensure consistency,
as it will enable us to pull together information about our approach
to complaints in all the different sectors.
continues to be a priority. We will focus on the need to
cross-train our staff on a wide range of products, so that we have
the necessary flexibility to handle surges of work in different
demonstrated our ability to improve productivity and timeliness while,
at the same time, handling a significant increase in the volume of
complaints. Our challenge now is to continue these improvements in
productivity and timeliness while maintaining, or further improving,
the quality of our work.