FT Adviser (27/08/2019) – Consumers could manipulate the outcome and awards they receive from the ombudsman by choosing to bring their claim to the right one, an expert has warned.
Currently there are two ombudsman services dealing with financial services complaints, the Financial Ombudsman service and the Pensions Ombudsman.
The remits of those two overlap, although they did clarify the scope of their respective remits on pension complaints in an agreement between them in late 2017.
But in the latest review of the Pensions Ombudsman, published by the Department for Work and Pensions today (August 27), lead reviewer Hazel Hobbs urged the organisation to improve its relationship with the Fos and develop a “collaborative process to reduce the potential for customer confusion and duplication of efforts”.
The ombudsmen’s remit overlaps mainly due to the relationship between pensions and investments – TPO deals with matters which concern the administration and management of occupational and personal pension schemes, including pension transfers, while the Fos deals predominantly with advice on individual pensions.
However, Fos can also consider complaints about the administration of personal pensions and group personal pensions, which also falls under TPO’s reach.
Ms Hobbs noted while customers were able to take advantage of the overlap well-resourced pension schemes were too, as they could signpost customers to the organisation they thought more likely to rule in their favour.
Alan Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth and Pensions, said: “Overlaps like this are inevitable.
“It’s not ideal but it appears the potential for abuse is likely to be very small. Still, clarity would be welcome so that consumers are directed to the right ombudsman service and are treated fairly.”