IFA accuses Fos of speeding up cases to meet bonus
An IFA and an ex-Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) adjudicator have accused the ombudsman of not spending enough time on each case as adjudicators are driven by meeting their targets.
An ex-Financial Ombudsman Service (Fos) adjudicator has accused the ombudsman of failing to investigate cases properly as a result of a bonus incentive to close a set number of cases per week.
Jane Sanders, an ex-Fos adjudicator, claimed that a in order to get a bonus Fos staff are tasked with closing a number of cases per week - which was previously set at 3.5 - and spend on average eight weeks on each case, which she says is "not enough time to properly investigate".
Her comments relate to a case from April 2011, in which IFA Paolo Standerwick, trading as MLP Ltd, received a telephone call from the Fos in relation to a specific case that is being looked at by an adjudicator.
The case involves a transfer from a final salary scheme involving several separate accusations, which Mr Standerwick said took "considerable time" to respond to in a 14-page report, refuting all the allegations.
Before the report had been submitted, Mr Standerwick received a telephone call from a Fos adjudicator questioning why the response was taking so long, who he said was "rather pushy to get the submission in."
In response, Mr Standerwick wrote a letter of complaint to Natalie Ceeney, chief executive of the Fos, demanding to know why the adjudicator refused to tell him his experience and also if there was a bonus paid out to ombudsmen to complete cases within a timeframe.
In her response, Ms Ceeney claimed she was confident that staff "are ably qualified for the work they do" and that the remuneration scheme offered is "modest".
She said in her letter: "The average amount that our case-handling staff earned last year in additional pay, for example, was £4,000. The number of cases resolved and the time taken to do so of course feature in these arrangements as we are keen to ensure that we keep waiting times down for our customers.
"The general aim of our additional incentive payments is to reflect the many additional hours of unpaid overtime that staff are prepared to work to deal with our ever increasing case load."
However Ms Sanders, director of commercial resolution specialist JSCS, claimed that adjudicators are given fixed targets to close a number of cases per week to get a bonus, a claim the Fos has denied.
She said: "I know that this is still incentivised but I'm not sure if is still 3.5 cases per week as they amend as they go along – it seems to be dependent on how many cases are coming in as opposed to the number of adjudicators.
"If you don’t want to use your brain, you could use a computer generating template but you have eight weeks to look at cases, access evidence, write to them if need more evidence.
"To close 3.5 cases a week, you need a massive case load. The pressure was awful and a lot of people had stress problems there. It's a big role that needs to be fulfilled.