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FOS spends £400k on office move

The Financial Ombudsman Service has spent £400,000 on relocating to a new office building, Mortgage Strategy’s sister title Money Marketing can reveal.

Last year, the organisation relocated from South Quay Plaza to Exchange Tower, both in London Docklands.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from Money Marketing, the FOS says the annual rental cost for South Quay Plaza was £4.8m, and the annual cost for Exchange Tower is £5.4m.

It has spent an additional £400,000 on the relocation itself.

The FOS says it initially paid £20.84 per square foot to rent South Quay Plaza when it was set up in 2000, and later obtained additional space at an average rent of £26.32 per square foot as the organisation grew.

It is paying an average of £25.20 per square foot at Exchange Tower.

A spokeswoman says: “When our lease was coming up for renewal, as our existing building was too small for the organisation and there was talk of the building being re-developed, we began sourcing appropriate venues.

“The remainder of the South Quay Plaza complex was available for a rent of £25.00 per square foot, but due to the inefficient layout of the building this would have meant the FOS needing to take more space than other potential venues and we did not feel this provided appropriate value for money.

“Having considered numerous venues, we agreed to take a lease of 15 years that provided the best value for money in Exchange Tower for an average rental cost of £25.20 per square foot. We also have the capacity to downsize, should complaint levels reduce.”

The FOS says the relocation involved moving 4,000 staff. It has taken on 2,000 employees in the past two years, and plans to recruit 200 more case-handlers in 2015/16.

Separately, the FOS has also set out plans to cut its budget by 13 per cent in 2015/16 and maintain the current industry levy at £23.3m.

A budget of £221m has been proposed for 2015/16, down from around £254m in the current financial year, while the overall compulsory levy for the financial services industry will be frozen.

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