The Financial Ombudsman Service should be seen as approachable and prepared to answer peoples queries and concerns, according to its chief executive and chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman.
Speaking to FTAdviser, she said: “People worry about how its going to be when they deal with the ombudsman service and I worry about that, so I want to emphasise that we just want to have a dialogue, so we are here open and ready to have that conversation.”
Ms Wayman was speaking in the context of some of the events the Fos runs which are specifically aimed at smaller businesses.
They are designed to get SMEs to have a conversation with the Fos and “be able to ask us anything”, something it is aiming to get out across different communities in the UK.
“What we’ve tried to do recently is make it much less ‘we stand up and present’ and much more conversational, so it will be sitting around on tables and someone from the ombudsman service will there around to answer questions and concerns,” stated Ms Wayman.
She explained that the service needs to think about the range of ways in which people want to interact.
“For my part there is a need for that to be a conversation, as opposed to some services feeling a bit faceless and bureaucratic at times, so I’m very keen that we do a lot to not to be seen as that, to be approachable.”
Elsewhere, Ms Wayman said that the Fos’ work continues to be dominated by payment protection insurance.
“We are also seeing quite a growth in complaints about packaged bank accounts and again that’s not something that is widely spread in terms of the people who sold them - it is the bigger banks - but in terms of numbers of cases, that’s what we’ve got firmly on the radar for into next year’s budget planning, which we are just now in the process of putting together.
The Fos’ budget will be at a consultation stage in January and Ms Wayman said that it’s the time of the year for talking to the industry to say “what do you see, where do you see it going?”.
“It will be a while until that [the pensions reforms] hits our caseload, for us the next few months are centered around our plans for next year, putting together our budget and thinking about what’s coming down the line over the next 18 months or so, but also with an eye to needing to just modernise some of the ways in which we work.”