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Following the operational problems highlighted from the recent Dispatches investigation into the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), PIMFA has called for an immediate, independent review of past cases where there is any doubt as to the outcome, especially in light of the evidence showing a lack of training and competence for FOS staff when dealing with complex pension, advice and investment related cases to ensure consistent outcomes as has previously been raised on numerous occasions.

FOS plays a vital role in cementing consumer trust in financial services, acting as a third party in which both sides can have confidence. They are dealing with an extremely high, growing annual case load – over 1.4 million PPI cases alone since 2010 – therefore its productive operation is essential to ensure best practice throughout our industry and to help promote a culture of savings and investment.

Liz Field, CEO of PIMFA, the UK’s leading trade association for the personal investment management and financial advice sector, said:

“The issues identified by the investigation are obviously cause of concern for the industry and need to be dealt with seriously. It is imperative that individuals feel confident they can seek redress if something has gone awry to avoid severe detriment to individuals lives. We therefore support the call for a review of past cases that remain questionable in a bid to prove that cases have been dealt with correctly.

PIMFA also call for an urgent review of the FOS training regime to ensure that its staff have sufficient knowledge when dealing with complex pension, advice and investment claims they receive. We recognise that the mounting case load is putting pressure on staff who in most instances are working hard to achieve the fairest outcomes. However an evaluation of internal culture is essential to deal with issues identified such as the obvious lack of necessary training and the setting of unachievable targets, which seriously impacts the decision-making process.

Any planned extension to the remit of FOS should be suspended until we can be assured that staff have the necessary knowledge to deal with the subject matter competently to achieve just decisions.

These fundamentals need to be resolved to ensure that clients and firms can access a sustainable, impartial, evidence based dispute resolution model.”

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