The Bearing Point review of the FSO and Pensions Ombudsman

Discussion in 'The Financial Services Ombudsman' started by Brendan Burgess, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
    Bearing Point were retained by the FSO to conduct a review of its operations. It's a very long report. and Operational Review FSOB & OPO Jan 2016.pdf

    I can't find any press mention of it?

    I have put the summary of the recommendations in the second post on this thread.

    Here is my summary of their summary

    The FSO should act more informally, especially early on, to try to resolve the complaints quicker. They should phone the complainant and the provider to establish the issues.

    They should provide the users with relevant case studies.

    They should issue a summary of the issues and a Preliminary Finding which would allow the parties to raise issues on the points of facts.

    I have long argued this point about the Preliminary Finding

    The FSO should bring back the internal appeals system

    The FSO issued a press release after the report:

    The Review Report put forward a number of recommendations which have been accepted by the Financial Services Ombudsman and major change is already being implemented.

    The Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau has adopted a new approach that is more flexible and focused on early resolution of disputes wherever possible. Better use of data analytics will be employed to identify systemic issues and alert consumers, inform providers of the need for change and inform the Central Bank where necessary.

    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
  2. Brendan Burgess

    Brendan Burgess Founder

    Recommendations for the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

    In accordance with leading practices, the FSPO should adopt a more proportionate and preventative approach to dispute resolution.

    This would require making more resources available to provide information and guidance to
    complainants and providers which empowers them to resolve their disputes early and at source.

    The figure below provides an overview of the structure of the proposed FSPO organisation with a particular focus on the approach to dispute resolution. The model proposed is based on developing a preventative model which provides both consumers and providers with information and guidance that supports the early resolution of dispute.

    Informal techniques should be used to deliver a service that is speedy and effective and puts the needs of service users at its core. This includes using clear, plain English in all written and verbal communications and avoiding the use of overly technical terminology.


    To achieve these goals, the FSPO scheme should take a proactive approach to providing service users with information and case studies that are relevant to their complaint in order to manage their expectations of what the scheme will and will not do. The approach applies to all parties - both consumers and providers.

    Once complaints are received, they should be assigned to a case officer who works with the parties to achieve an early and fair resolution to the issue in dispute. In the first instance, this should involve speaking with both parties to understand the issue in full. This would initially focus on the complainant by using open questioning techniques to talk through the issue and understand the outcome that the complainant is seeking. The provider should then be consulted to understand the measures taken to resolve the complaint and, if the case officer feels the provider did not fully understand the complaint, the provider may be requested to reinvestigate the issue and to prepare a new response letter.

    If an immediate resolution is not achieved, the case officer would continue to work with the parties to resolve the complaint through informal means. Where possible, communication should be by telephone and electronic means (e.g. email) which should reduce the delays associated with the exchange of written documents. Parties in the complaint should have access to an online portal which provides them with a view of the case status and access to relevant case documentation.

    Access to subject matter experts within FSPO or externally should be arranged for any case officer who requires specialist product or legal input/advice.

    By engaging with the parties directly, the case officer can capture the detail behind the issue in the manner best suited to the parties involved. More importantly, it should allow them to build trust with the parties which is essential to achieving a timely and satisfactory resolution.

    In the event that the complaint does need to progress to a formal adjudication stage, the case officer would complete their investigation and prepare the complaint file for adjudication. This includes a summary of the issue which provides the parties with clarity on the points of fact to be assessed by the adjudication officer. By engaging an experienced case officer early in the process, the overall quality of the complaint description would be improved which would ultimately aid the adjudication process because it has been updated by the case officer during the course of the investigation and by the provider's responses.

    The complete file would then be passed over by the case officer to an adjudication officer for review and recommendation. The adjudication officer is a separate individual who has not had a relationship with either party. The case officer still remains available to the parties and continues to monitor the progression of the case. This model allows the case officer develop a trusting relationship with the complainant which is essential for case progression and open communication. Where appropriate, the case officer’s role can act to redress the balance between the complainant and their provider.

    The adjudication officer's recommendation is based on the facts of the case as presented and is arrived at in an impartial and independent manner. Their Preliminary Finding is shared with the parties allowing them to raise any concerns about points of fact. The case officer remains available to respond to any questions and explain the outcome to the parties if required.

    Any additional points of fact raised by the parties should be considered and the Preliminary Finding updated accordingly. In the event that no new information comes to light, the adjudication officer’s Preliminary Finding would be forwarded to the Ombudsman for final decision.

    Throughout the process information would be captured on the nature of complaints and enquiries received. During the early resolution stage, details of interventions and outcomes should be recorded.This would allow future analysis which would help inform the scheme on the most effective techniques to use in given circumstances, and the ability to monitor changing trends in complaints.

    Sharing case studies which provide an overview of the different outcomes from various types of cases - including those that were adjudicated upon and those that were resolved informally - should be made available to all stakeholders through a web portal to support greater understanding by the Public as a whole.

    The proposed changes should result in a significant reduction in the amount of time spent dealing with complaints that can be resolved informally, which would in turn create capacity to focus more on preventative measures and personal development goals.

    Attached Files:

  3. Sophrosyne

    Sophrosyne Frequent Poster

    This article by Sarah McCabe about the current Ombudsman, Ger Deering is also interesting and mentions the Bearing Point report.

    “His first move as Ombudsman was to initiate a review of how the office worked, performed by consultancy BearingPoint. This resulted in sweeping changes that took effect at the beginning of February.”


    "Everybody said the same thing to us," Deering said in conversation with the Sunday Independent. "Everybody said they wanted a simpler, faster, less legalistic and informal way of resolving disputes, that we had become very formal, very legalistic…

    "It was taking a long time to get complaints through the system because of that formality. The same process applied whether it was a small value complaint or a life-changing one.

    "We were set up as an alternative to the courts. So it's very important, when the Oireachtas sets you up in that way, that you don't turn yourself into a court of law."
    AureaEos likes this.