Advisers rally for FOS accountability

A group of advisers has voiced support for the proposed establishment of an independent assessor to scrutinise the Financial Ombudsman Service, saying “it is essential for the integrity of the financial system”.

Last week, ifa reported that a government-appointed panel had proposed the establishment of an independent assessor to conduct investigations into FOS's handling of disputes.

Speaking to ifa, chief executive at Shartru Wealth Robert Coyte said, “The requirement that FOS be independently reviewed is welcome and long overdue.”

“Accountability is essential in any sphere of public service. FOS should be scrutinised on their decision making the same way the advisers they adjudicate on are. If they are not up to scratch, they should be removed from their positions," he said. 

Mr Coyte said he believes there are currently a range of problems with FOS.

“[FOS has] inappropriately-skilled case officers who don’t understand the advice processes and technicalities,” Mr Coyte said.

“FOS case managers have wide discretion as to the process and rules of evidence applied to individual complaints, [which] results in inconsistency and dissatisfaction from users.

“The FOS claims to enforce the law and use industry standards as the benchmark for advice. In my opinion, any substantial study of FOS cases shows this claim to be highly dubious."

Other commenters on the ifa website also recently backed increased accountability for FOS.

One comment stated: “I totally agree that FOS needs an independent assessor. Better still, make FOS abide by evidence-based investigations."

Another commenter said, because advice "is so complex now, and advice documents so long, it's not possible for FOS to be across everything."

In a recent response to the government-appointed panel's recommendation, FOS said: “We welcome the interim report and support its proposals designed to strengthen current arrangements based on fairness, openness, simplicity and adaptability as core features of future arrangements for dispute resolution in the financial sector.”

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