The Financial Ombudsman Service's 2015 agenda

February 12 2015


  • Caroline Wayman (Financial Ombudsman Service)



Personally, I was astonished to learn that the Financial Ombudsman Service employs more than 3,500 people; I would have guessed a couple of hundred, at most. But then I was also astonished to learn that it handled 75,000 complaints between October and December last year. Of course, two-thirds of those were related to PPI, which has already cost the industry £22 billion - and one has to hope that, sooner or later, the flood of PPI cases will come to an end. But don't get your hopes up. Caroline Wayman - who was appointed chief ombudsman and CEO last July, after 14 years with the Service (latterly as principal ombudsman and legal director) - has warned that she expects insurance mis-selling cases to go on 'for years'.

And then, of course, there are packaged bank accounts (which accounted for 6% of cases last year), current accounts (4%), mortgages (2%), credit cards (2%) and car and motorcycle insurance (also 2%)...  In its most recent budget, the ombudsman projects that it will resolve a further 250,000 PPI complaints in 2015/16, tackle 88,000 banking, 33,000 insurance and 17,000 investment complaints, and hire an additional 200 adjudicators. Even though the Service also hopes to cut the cost to the financial services sector by 13%, it still looks like a growth industry to me.
I am therefore delighted that Caroline (who trained as a barrister before joining the ombudsman) has agreed to come and talk about what she is up to, focusing particularly on:

  • her plans and the budget for 2015/16, as laid out in a consultation document published at the beginning of January; and

  • the themes emerging from the latest triennial review (entitled 'Resolution 2025').

At the customer-facing end of the financial services sector, the ombudsman probably has as big a day-to-day impact as does the FCA, so this is a great opportunity to get a sense of what is in store, and where Caroline figures the industry needs to pull its socks up.