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annual review 2009/2010

1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010

about this document

this publication contains facts, figures and information about our workload and complaints trends - for the year April 2009 to March 2010.

key facts about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We were set up under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to help resolve individual complaints between consumers and businesses providing financial services - as a quicker and more informal alternative to the courts.
  • We can look at complaints about a wide range of personal finance and money matters - from insurance and mortgages to investments and credit.
  • If a business can't resolve a consumer's complaint, we can step in to settle the dispute. But the business must have the chance to sort things out itself first.
  • We are independent and impartial. This means that when we decide a complaint, we look carefully at both sides of the story and weigh up all the facts.
  • If we decide a business has treated a consumer fairly, we will explain why. But if we decide the business has acted wrongly - and the consumer has lost out as a result - we can order matters to be put right.
  • Our service is free to consumers.
  • Consumers do not have to accept any decision we make. They are free to go to court instead. But if they accept an ombudsman's decision, it is binding on both them and the business.
  • We do not write the rules for businesses providing financial services - or fine them if rules are broken. That is the job of the regulator.
  • We cannot give personal advice about financial matters or debt problems. But we are committed to sharing our knowledge and experience - to help consumers and businesses settle problems themselves and to help eliminate the causes of complaints.

key figures about the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • We handled 925,095 initial enquiries and complaints from consumers (a 17% annual increase) - over 3,500 each working day.
  • Around 1 in 6 of the initial consumer enquiries we received turned into a "full-blown" dispute requiring the involvement of our adjudicators and ombudsmen - a record 163,012 new cases.
  • Insurance disputes increased by 38% and complaints about banking and credit rose by 30% - but the number of investment complaints stayed the same, motor insurance disputes decreased by 13%, and pension complaints fell by 27%.
  • 52% of the total number of cases we dealt with related to 4 of the UK's largest financial services groups - while 2,259 businesses had 1 complaint each.
  • We resolved 166,321 cases - a 46% annual increase - with our involvement resulting in compensation for consumers in 50% of complaints.
  • We resolved 38% of all disputes within three months; and 67% of cases within six months.
  • We operated on a budget of £92 million and our total number of staff averaged 1,015.
  • We provided information and handled enquiries in over 50 different languages and formats - from British Sign Language to Japanese, mpeg to Braille.
  • We took part in 232 seminars, roadshows, exhibitions and events. 
  • We handled 797 parliamentary enquiries and 16,319 calls to our technical advice desk.
  • We featured in over 4,500 articles in the media - and 75% of adults in the UK said they were aware of the Financial Ombudsman Service.

All figures relate to the financial year 2009/2010.

an overview of how we handle cases

925,095 initial enquiries and complaints

handled by our customer-contact division

163,012 new cases

referred to our adjudicators and ombudsmen for further dispute-resolution work

155,591 cases resolved by our adjudicators

through mediation, recommended settlements and adjudications

10,730 cases resolved by our ombudsmen

making formal decisions at the final "appeal" stage of our dispute-resolution process

All figures relate to the year ended 31 March 2010.

image of annual review 2009

photo: Natalie Ceeney CBE

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