Sorry we’re so slow: New UK financial complaints chief issue stark apology to victims
The new boss of Britain’s financial complaints body has apologised for its slow performance as she spearheads a shake-up.
Nausicaa Delfas, who joined the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) in May, said she was ‘sorry’ many victims often waited months for complaints to be resolved.
But she vowed that the FOS was ‘changing and improving’ as she unveiled reforms to knock it into shape.
Shake-up: New boss Nausicaa Delfas vowed that the FOS was ‘changing and improving’ as she unveiled reforms designed to knock it into shape
It follows a review by management consultants Oaklin, which identified problems with the FOS structure and technology, and its communication with the public, other regulators, and industry bodies.
Delfas, who joined the FOS from the Financial Conduct Authority, told the Daily Mail: ‘When I joined in May, I hit the ground running and initiated this review. I could see we needed to change, and this gave us an opportunity to have an impartial perspective.’
The FOS is designed to impartially adjudicate disputes between customers and financial businesses, from banks to insurers.
But victims have slammed it. Mark Bishop, a campaigner and victim of the Connaught investment scandal, said: ‘The FOS has been painfully slow at resolving complaints.
‘Justice delayed is justice denied. Often the people making the complaints have a very urgent economic need because of a wrong they have suffered. Extending the process only prolongs their pain.’
Oaklin found 13,000 cases resting with the FOS were between one and two years old, 3,100 between two and three years old and over 1,800 cases where victims had been waiting more than three years.
The report said: ‘Such delays are obviously detrimental to the service a consumer receives.’
The consultants said the FOS needed to shake up its structure. Far too many investigators were leaving after completing their training.
In some areas, attrition levels were around 40 per cent.
The FOS should set up an online portal, it added, so victims could submit complaints online rather than having to call or email the ombudsman.
As complaints were becoming more varied, with a boom in online crime, Oaklin suggested investigators should be trained in specialist areas rather than as generalists.
Delfas said that the FOS had halved the backlog of cases by trying to resolve some in groups.
She said: ‘We want to reduce our backlogs, reduce our waiting times, and we’re really sorry that some have had to wait a long time.’