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What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The Financial Ombudsman Service came into effect back in 2001, and was a swift outcome of the introduction of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

What is its main purpose?

Primarily, the Ombudsman is there to work with, support and ultimately settle disputes between customers and financial services organisations. It acts as a completely impartial organisation, and strives to give an opinion that is unbiased with regards to any case it is presented with.

What sort of thing does it deal with?

The Ombudsman is responsible for dealing with disputes relating to all sectors financial services, including mortgages, insurances and pensions. On an annual basis, the service processes more than one million enquiries and go on to settle around 150,000.

At what point does the ombudsman step in?

The Ombudsman is what customers turn to having exhausted all other avenues within the organisations complaint process. If they feel that their concerns are not being addressed appropriately or have been handled incorrectly as per the company’s procedures, or if they are unhappy with the resolution that the company has offer, they may then turn and place their complaint directly with the Ombudsman Service.

Is there a cost to the customer?

The Financial Ombudsman Service is completely free, and any costs are paid using contributions that have been made by companies within the financial services market. From a legal point of view, it even has the power to declare that a company has not acted correctly, as well as to make sure it rectifies any errors and put things right.

If the consumer is still unhappy following the Ombudsman ruling, they are also entitled to see further legal advice, and go on to request the services of a consumer law solicitor before taking the organisation in question to court.

Any restrictions?

There are certain timescales that must be adhered to, when placing a case with the Ombudsman Service. There are also restrictions on what type of incidents can be logged as an official complaint. Any complaint must be logged within a six month timescale of the original complaint being closed by the originating company.

In order to become a qualified mortgage professional, you will commit to undertake the required study to pass and obtain the CeMAP qualification. Part of your studies cover the Financial Ombudsman and their role in greater detail. You will need to learn your employer’s complaint process, and the step to follow before a customer refers to the Ombudsman.

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