In anticipation of the amalgamation of the Financial Services Ombudsman Bureau (FSO) and the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman (OPO), the bodies commissioned a review to help plan for the future of the amalgamated organisation. The recently published findings of the Strategic and Operational Review have led the FSO to introduce a new dedicated Dispute Resolution Service.

The review found low levels of user satisfaction on the basis that the complaints process was drawn out, overly formal, too legalistic and that the findings seemed unpredictable and inconsistent. The new Dispute Resolution Service aims to fix these problems by providing a more informal process that resolves disputes before they have to go to the FSO’s Adjudication Service. When a complaint is received, the FSO will now assign a Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) who will contact the complainant and provider. The DRO will use telephone conversations, email, mediations and conciliations to facilitate a resolution quickly and informally. DROs do not decide who is in the right and if the parties fail to enter a settlement agreement between them the dispute will go to the Adjudication Service.

Details on the new process can be found in the Information Booklet titled “How Complaints Made to the Financial Services Ombudsman are Handled” on the FSO’s website here.

A link to the review is here.

A link to the FSO press release announcing the change is here.