Fears Fos revamp ‘could hit quality of decisions’

Fears Fos revamp ‘could hit quality of decisions’

The Financial Ombudsman Service’s (Fos) restructure has come under fire, with some employees claiming the shake-up will deliver quick, but not necessarily appropriate decisions for consumers.

Previously, Fos adjudicators have specialised in a product area. Complaints were received by a separate team and then assigned to an adjudicator with specialist knowledge about the type of product the consumer was recommended.

However, Fos has gradually been ditching this structure.

Under the new structure, the person who first receives the complaint will consider the complaint – regardless of whether it is about a type of product they have specialised knowledge of, or not.

Ombudsmen will become managers responsible for small teams of investigators.

Ahead of the switch in structure, Financial Adviser understands there was a trial of whether the new way of working at Fos would deliver appropriate decisions.

According to a source who works at Fos, the new structure saw a questionable decision – or not the decision the product specialist adjudicator would have made – in a significant percentage of cases.

Financial Adviser put this to a Fos spokesman, who disputed it, claiming the figure cited by the source had “absolutely no basis in fact whatsoever”.

The spokesperson said: “Our new way of working already shows significant improvements in customer satisfaction – from both businesses and consumers, especially as we’re able to answer complaints more quickly.

“We are introducing changes to make our service better and quicker, but quality will not be sacrificed in doing so.”

The source reckons the quality of staff at Fos is plummeting, “with many of the best people leaving.”

The source added: “The vast majority are desperately unhappy as they’re not being allowed to continue working in their specialist field.

“Consumers are going to get a rotten deal – access to cheap and quick injustice.”

When asked to comment on the source claiming that many top members of staff are leaving, the Fos spokesperson did not respond.

Financial Adviser reviewed some of the comments on Glassdoor, a website designed for employees to review their employers anonymously online.

A number of comments about currently working for Fos were negative; however, some made positive points about the organisation too.

One employee said: “The communication around the restructuring has been appalling. Staff don’t have any real knowledge on which to base choices for internal applications (i.e. what will happen to their current role if they choose not to apply for one of the new roles).

Another employee on Glassdoor said: “Six months on from the announcements of major structural change, and few people are any the wiser as to what the end result will look like.

“People feel forced to apply for jobs they don’t want for fear of losing the current job that they do want.

“Staff are constantly told by senior management that ‘we don’t know what that is going to look like yet’, which is either untrue and therefore infuriating to be always kept in the dark, or it is true, which is frankly completely disturbing.”