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annual review 2011/2012

1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012

about this document

this publication contains facts, figures and information about our workload and complaints trends - for the year April 2011 to March 2012.

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 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.
  • Everyone can learn something from complaints - so that what has gone wrong in the past need not happen again. This is why we have a crucial role in sharing insights from what we see - to help prevent future problems.

key figures about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We handled 1,268,798 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers - over 5,000 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 264,375 new cases, up 28% on the previous year.
  • 60% of new cases were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI), with the number rising to 157,716 - the highest number ever received in a year about a single financial product.
  • The number of investment-related complaints fell by 4% and banking complaints declined by 1% - while insurance complaints other than PPI cases rose by 31%.
  • Over half of the total number of cases we dealt with related to 4 financial services groups - while 4,048 businesses accounted for just 5% of our caseload.
  • We resolved a record 222,333 cases - resulting in compensation for consumers in 64% of complaints.
  • We resolved two thirds of all disputes within 6 months - and almost 4 out of 10 complaints other than PPI cases within 3 months.
  • We operated on a cost-base of £108 million with a staff of 1,700 at the end of the year.
  • We provided information and handled enquiries in 46 different languages and formats - from Braille to video-file, Chinese to British Sign Language.
  • We took part in over 200 seminars, roadshows, exhibitions and events.
  • We handled 624 parliamentary enquiries - and 19,281 calls to our technical advice desk, our dedicated service for professionals handling complaints in the financial services sector and the consumer-advice world.
  • We featured in 5,500 articles in the media - and 75% of adults in the UK said they were aware of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

All figures relate to the financial year 2011/2012.

an overview of how we handle cases

1,268,798 initial enquiries and complaints

handled by our front-line customer-contact division

264,375 new cases new cases

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

201,793 cases resolved by our adjudicators

through mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications

20,540 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 2011/2012.