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annual review 2008/09

1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009

about this document

this publication contains facts, figures and information about our workload and complaints trends - for the year April 2008 to March 2009.

key facts about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We were set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to help resolve individual complaints between consumers and businesses providing financial services - fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.
  • We can look at complaints about a wide range of financial matters - from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit.
  • If a business can'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. This means that 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 will explain why. But if we decide the business has acted wrongly - and the consumer has lost out as a result - 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.
  • 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 eliminate the causes of complaints.

key figures about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We handled 789,877 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers - over 3,000 each working day.
  • Around one in six of the initial consumer enquiries we received turned into a "full-blown" dispute requiring the involvement of our adjudicators and ombudsmen - a record 127,471 new cases.
  • Mortgage endowment cases fell by more than a half - but numbers of insurance disputes increased by 84% (with complaints about payment-protection insurance tripling) and disputes about mortgages, credit cards and consumer credit rose by 34%.
  • 52% of the total number of cases we dealt with related to six of the UK's largest financial services groups - broadly in proportion to the amount of business these groups as a whole carry out with consumers in the UK.
  • We resolved 113,949 cases - a 14% annual increase - with our involvement resulting in compensation for consumers in 57% of complaints.
  • We resolved a third of all disputes within three months; and just under eight out of ten cases within nine months.
  • We operated on a budget of £60 million and our total number of staff averaged 865.
  • We provided information and handled enquiries in over 40 different languages and formats - from British Sign Language to Korean, mpeg to Braille.
  • We took part in over 200 conferences, roadshows, trade fairs and consumer events.
  • We handled 763 parliamentary enquiries and 15,650 calls to our technical advice desk.
  • We were mentioned in over 4,500 articles in the press - and 74% of adults in the UK said they were aware of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

All figures relate to the year ended 31 March 2009.

an overview of our case-handling process

789,877 initial enquiries and complaints

handled by our customer-contact division

127,471 new cases

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

105,275 cases resolved by our adjudicators

through mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications

8,674 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 2009.