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annual review 2007/08

1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008

about this document

this publication contains facts, figures and information covering our workload and complaints trends - for the year April 2007 to March 2008.

key facts about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We were set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to help settle individual disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services - fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.
  • We can consider complaints about a wide range of financial matters - from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit.
  • We are independent and impartial - just as a judge would be, if the consumer went to court instead.
  • If a business can't resolve a consumer's complaint, we'll see if we can settle the dispute. But the business must first have the chance to sort things out itself.
  • Our service is free to consumers.
  • Consumers do not have to accept any decision we make. They are always 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.
  • Our service is confidential - we do not publish the names of the businesses or consumers whose complaints we handle.
  • We cannot give personal advice about financial matters or debt problems. But we are committed to sharing our knowledge and experience - to help consumers and businesses settle problems themselves and to help prevent the need for complaints in the first place.

key figures about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We handled a record 794,648 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers - a 27% annual increase.
  • Around 1 in 6 of the initial consumer enquiries we received turned into cases involving our adjudicators and ombudsmen - a record 123,089 disputes (a 30% annual increase).
  • We saw a sharp 70% fall in complaints about mortgage endowments - but numbers of insurance disputes doubled and banking disputes more than tripled.
  • Fewer than 5% of the financial services businesses we cover had disputes referred to the ombudsman service.
  • Just over half of the total number of cases we dealt with related to six of the UK's largest financial services groups - broadly reflecting the amount of business these groups as a whole carry out with consumers in the UK.
  • We resolved 99,699 cases - of which nine out of ten were settled informally, without the need for formal ombudsman decisions.
  • We resolved over half of all disputes about banking, insurance and investments other than mortgage endowments within three months; and half of mortgage endowment cases within nine months - in line with our targets.
  • We operated on a budget of £55.5 million and our total number of staff averaged 825.
  • We provided information and handled enquiries in over 30 different languages and formats - from Arabic to Welsh, Braille to mp3.
  • We took part in conferences, roadshows, trade-fairs and consumer-events at least twice every week.
  • We handled 600 parliamentary and ministerial enquiries, over 4,000 media calls and 18,000 specialist enquiries to our technical advice desk.

All figures relate to the year ended 31 March 2008.

an overview of our case-handling process

794,648 initial enquiries and complaints

handled by our customer contact division

123,089 new cases

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

91,739 cases resolved by our adjudicators

by mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications

7,960 cases resolved by our ombudsmen

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

All figures relate to the year ended 31 March 2008.

image of annual review 2008

... the independent experts in settling financial disputes

... settling disputes without taking sides

This annual review is published in accordance with paragraph 7 of schedule 17 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.