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Complaining to the Financial Ombudsman

View profile for Ben Davis
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The Financial Ombudsman (‘FOS’) is a free service, created by Parliament to impartially and independently resolve complaints about financial business, such as banks, insurance companies and financial advisors.

Their aim is to resolve disputes fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally. If they decide you have been treated unfairly, they have the power to put things right.

FOS can help with complaints about most kinds of financial products and services such as banking and payments, loans, mortgages and pensions.

If your complaint is about a financial product or service provided in or from the UK, how do you complain to the FOS?

Complain to the financial business first.

The first step is to make the business aware of the problem and why you are unhappy. This gives the business a chance to investigate and fix the issue themselves.

If the problem remains unresolved, you can then make a formal complaint to the business. Within this complaint you should set out what the problem is and how you would like the business to fix it.

Make sure to keep a record of conversations and correspondence you have with the business, as this can support any complaint to FOS.

The business then has up to 8 weeks to resolve the complaint and they should keep you updated on the progress of their investigations.

Once they have finished their investigations and reached a decision, they should send you a final response letter with their decision.

The final response letter.

This letter should include the details of the outcome of the complaint and how to progress your complaint further if you remain unhappy.

Make sure to keep this letter, as FOS will ask to see it if you contact them.

You can then make a complaint to FOS within 6 months of the date of your final response letter.

If you have not received a final response to your complaint within the 8 weeks, you can also make a complaint to FOS.

Making a complaint to FOS.

After receiving a final response letter, or if the business has had the 8 weeks to respond and they have not responded, and you are still unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, you can ask FOS to investigate your complaint, via their online form.

What will FOS do?

FOS will review the facts and circumstances of each individual complaint. They will listen to both you and the business when deciding what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

We receive many enquiries regarding a variety of complaints about financial product and service businesses. For example, insurance company disputes where the insurance companies do not pay out following a claim.

In such disputes FOS will take into account:

  1. The policy wording
  2. Any relevant laws and regulations
  3. Industry codes of conduct and best practice
  4. Any relevant evidence such as medical records, photos, applications and claim forms.

Once FOS has reviewed everything, they will set out their findings and explain whether they think you have been treated fairly or not.

If they consider the business has treated you unfairly, FOS will set out what they think needs to be done to rectify things.

It is difficult to estimate how long the process will take, as it can depend on the circumstances of the complaint. However, FOS have said that for most types of insurance complaints, it takes one or two months for them to allocate cases, but it can take longer and does depend on the complaint.

If a consumer accepts the final decision, the decision becomes legally binding on the financial business.

Unfortunately, sometimes the business does not comply with the decision from FOS and it becomes necessary to enforce the decision through the courts.

How we can help

Our experienced commercial litigation team can assist in writing formal letters of complaint to the financial business, making a complaint to FOS, and enforcing FOS decisions through the courts.

For a free no obligation discussion, please contact us on 0121 355 0011 to see how we may be able to help you.