Q: How does the ombudsman deal with IFAs?
The Financial Ombudsman Service looks at complaints about IFAs in exactly the same way as any other financial business.
A spokesman for the ombudsman said: “We are very experienced in dealing with complaints involving a wide range of smaller businesses – from retailers providing credit to debt collectors.
“Some of our adjudicators are themselves former IFAs or have other extensive experience of the intermediary sector.
“Due to the low number of complaints we receive about IFAs, we recognise that some IFAs, who have had limited direct contact with the ombudsman service, might be unsure about our approach or how we can help them nip complaints in the bud without the ombudsman getting formally involved.”
The Financial Ombudsman Service website has detailed guidance on how it deals with complaints; it provides information on the approach taken to various issues.
The ombudsman’s technical advice desk is available to all financial businesses and provides informal advice in the early stages of a complaint, to help the business try and resolve the issue.
Regular regional seminars on complaints handling for smaller businesses are organised by the Financial Ombusdman Service – details of which can be found here: http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/news/events-industry.htm.
The Fos website also has an online video specially for smaller businesses – covering the questions most frequently asked by IFAs.
If the Financial Ombudsman Service receives a complaint about a business that has not had a complaint lodged with Fos in the last six months, it is sent tailored information about the ombudsman’s service as part of an initial contact letter.