FOS to name and shame

The Financial Ombudsman Service is to name and shame companies that it receives the most complaints about.

The decision follows an independent report by Lord Hunt of the Wirral, published in April 2008, which recommended that greater transparency in complaints-handling should include the ombudsman making information publicly available about how individual financial businesses deal with complaints.

This was accepted by the non-executive board of the FOS, as confirmed in the ombudsman’s annual review and the policy statement on the ombudsman service’s strategic approach to transparency.

It plans to publish the number of complaints referred to the ombudsman service in relation to the 150 or so financial businesses which produce most cases.

It will also reveal the percentage of upheld complaints – where the outcome changed in favour of the consumer following the ombudsman service’s involvement.

The ombudsman service seeks comments from all interested parties on a number of specific practical issues, such as how to show data for financial businesses that operate under various trading names, how data on the outcome of complaints should be verified and what period the data should cover.

The FOS’s plans for the publication of complaints data are separate from – but complementary to proposals that the Financial Services Authority published in May 2008.

The FSA’s proposals for publishing complaints data relate to the information it receives from regulated firms – about the number and outcome of complaints that firms have received from consumers.