Treasury review must not undermine Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Services Consumer Panel has warned that the simplicity and accessibility of the Financial Ombudsman Service could be undermined if the Treasury&#39s review ended up adding an appeal system to the current process.

The two-year review of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 which set up the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Authority was announced by the Treasury yesterday.

The Consumer Panel is pleased to see that many aspects of the Act which it asked to be reviewed have been included in this process. It will continue to press for actions to help consumers to understand more about the financial services they are buying and to protect them from wrongdoing in the market.

The panel particularly welcomes the commitment from the Treasury and the FSA to do more about financial promotions — an area where the Consumer Panel has campaigned for some time to gain quicker action by the FSA to stamp out misleading advertising, and to publicise any action which the FSA takes.

And it says it also welcomes the Treasury&#39s promise to clarify the boundary of regulation so that employers and advice centres are not constrained from giving simple advice on financial issues. This will go some way towards meeting the panel&#39s wish to have a simple independent generic advice system available for all consumers.

The Consumer Panel will be considering all the consultation papers as they are published, and will be responding publicly to all those which affect consumers of financial services.