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ombudsman launches new guide for financial firms

- from 1 December

9 November 2001

The Chief Ombudsman, Walter Merricks, today launched a new booklet specially produced for firms covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The booklet - aimed at financial advisers, insurers, banks and building societies - explains the role of the ombudsman service and how it resolves disputes between financial firms and their customers.

The booklet sets out:

  • how firms should handle complaints themselves before the ombudsman gets involved;
  • the types of complaint the ombudsman can deal with; the different stages in the ombudsman process; and
  • practical details about providing information to the ombudsman, dealing with confidentiality issues and complying with ombudsman decisions.

Describing the new booklet for firms as part of an initiative to promote a better understanding of how the ombudsman service works, Walter Merricks said:

"We hope the guide will help firms in their dealings with us - and de-mystify the ombudsman process, especially for firms who have had little or no direct contact with us and are uncertain what happens if a complaint about them is brought to the ombudsman."

"But as well as explaining how we operate, we want to let firms know how we can help them prevent complaints - identifying and minimising problems that might otherwise lead to expensive and time-consuming disputes. There's no need for firms to wait until a customer has made a complaint. They can approach us at any time - whether to talk through a complaints issue informally with our technical advice desk - or to arrange for us to visit them - or provide a training seminar. Firms can also join our publications-list and email news subscription service."


notes for editors

  1. The Financial Ombudsman Service has brought together eight complaints-handling schemes - including the Banking and Building Societies Ombudsmen, the Insurance and Investment Ombudsmen, the Personal Investment Authority Ombudsman and the Securities and Futures Authority's Complaints Bureau - to form a new single organisation for resolving consumers' financial disputes.
  2. The Financial Ombudsman Service can deal with financial complaints involving banks, building societies, financial advisers, insurance companies, investment firms, stockbrokers and fund managers. Complaints covered range from disputes about home insurance and pension plans to bank accounts and investments.
  3. When the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 comes into force at "N2" (1 December 2001), the Financial Ombudsman Service will get its full legal powers and a new single set of rules - rather than having to use the separate sets of rules for each of the former ombudsman schemes.
  4. The Financial Ombudsman Service provides a range of services for firms, including: technical advice desk for queries from firms about the ombudsman rules and for general guidance on how the ombudsman is likely to view specific issues (phone 020 7964 1400, email external liaison to organise and speak at seminars, workshops, conferences etc (email publications and website including our monthly publication ombudsman news - containing case studies and commentary - and technical briefing notes for firms

media enquiries

  • David Cresswell – phone 020 7964 0134
  • Emma Parker – phone 020 7964 0966
  • out of hours – phone 0771 8658 306

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