The creation of a ‘small firms division' within the Fos would not add value to the service because specific assistance for such firms is already available, claims the ombudsman.
In response to queries from IFAs about why the ombudsman does not have a small firms division like the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the Financial Ombudsman Service says it already has specialist teams focusing on IFA-related complaints, suggesting such a division is unnecessary.
The latest edition of ombudsman news states: “We recognise that businesses that have only infrequent contact with us have different needs to those that deal with us on a daily basis. The ombudsman service does not have an area specifically called our ‘small firms division’. Instead, we have specialist teams focusing on particular types of casework.”
It says the key issues for the teams are predominantly relevant to a specific sector or kind of complaint, so for IFA-related complaints it has teams with particular knowledge and experience of issues such as professional indemnity cover and product-provider relationships.
It adds: “Our approach takes account of the fact that not all smaller businesses are the same – and we respond to their various needs and issues in different ways.”
Emma Parker, press officer at the Fos, says: “Just to label something a ‘small firms division’ doesn’t add value because it is already embedded in the service.”
An internal taskforce is working across all areas of the ombudsman and has specific responsibility for focusing on smaller firms and encouraging initiatives to improve the service it offers to them.
This currently includes running a pilot project to see whether IFAs who have several complaints with the Fos at the same time prefer to have their cases co-ordinated by a single adjudicator.
Parker says some IFAs like the consistency of dealing with one person, while others prefer a mixture because they may not feel the adjudicator identifies with them.
If you have any comments you would like to add to this story or would like to speak to its author about a similar subject, telephone Emily Perryman on 020 7968 4554 or email [email protected].IFAonline
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