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plan & budget 2004/05 for the year ending 31 March 2005 - business plans

3.1 N2+2 review

In November 2003, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury announced a two-year review of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. Part of the review will examine aspects of the work of the Financial Ombudsman Service. The review will cover the way the Financial Ombudsman Service interacts with the FSA's regulatory responsibilities and with the work of the other bodies with regulatory responsibilities. It will also consider the case for amending the process by which firms may appeal against our decisions. Together with the FSA, we have established a group of stakeholder representatives to oversee the scope, terms and conduct of the consultation process. We expect the review to be completed by November 2004.

3.2 internal assessment

In parallel with the external review, we have commissioned Elaine Kempson, at the University of Bristol, to provide an independent assessment of the work of the ombudsman service, focusing on the quality, consistency and flexibility of our process. Her assessment is likely to be completed by the summer of 2004.

3.3 intermediaries

Mortgage and insurance intermediaries will join our compulsory jurisdiction in October 2004 and January 2005 respectively. During 2003, we have been in discussion with the FSA and the relevant trade associations about how best to merge these new sectors into our present operations. In early 2004, together with the FSA, we will issue a consultation on the proposed funding mechanism for these firms (covering arrangements for both 2004/05 and 2005/06 onwards), along with any necessary rule changes. Throughout 2003 we have been encouraging mortgage and insurance intermediaries to join our voluntary jurisdiction, to help them prepare in advance of their being required to join our compulsory jurisdiction.

3.4 modular training

To help us develop the skills of our case-handling staff, we have put in place a training framework comprising three modules:

  • case-handling
  • product guidance; and
  • management.

All case-handling staff will take part in those aspects of the training that are relevant to their specific responsibilities.