On 27 July 2023, the Financial Ombudsman Service (the FOS) published the independent assessor’s annual report for 2022-2023.

During the financial year 2022-2023, the FOS received 3,717 service complaints, of which the independent assessor investigated 649. In the report, the independent assessor highlights that, in most cases, the FOS is responding to service complaints fairly and to its customers’ satisfaction. However, the independent assessor notes that there is still room for improvement, which is the focus of this report.

The report highlights that, in general, the FOS has treated its customer’s fairly and impartially, and this category was found to have the fewest failings. Furthermore, professionalism and staff attitude has also consistently been an area which received few complaints, with only three instances over the year of which the assessor considered conduct to be an issue.

However, the report notes a service failing in communication or timelines in 82% of cases, which the assessor has classed as unsatisfactory. The main types of communication concern reported were as follows:

  • Failure to adhere to the customer’s preferred method of contact.
  • Failure to inform customers, in detail, why cases have been put on hold.
  • Failure to provide updates, in line with the FOS’s communication standards.
  • Failure to respond to email promptly and at times, at all.
  • Failure to return customers’ calls.
  • Failure to tailor communication to meet customer’s needs.
  • Tone of telephone calls.
  • Typographical errors in correspondence, views, and final decision – which impact the customer’s view of a thorough and efficient investigation.