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Financial Ombudsman Service Reviews

Updated 25 February 2018
378 reviews

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1.8
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Caroline Wayman
238 Ratings

378 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Relatively good work/life balance (in 51 reviews)

  • Nice people and offices, good benefits and overall the pay isn (in 54 reviews)

Cons
  • m sure the senior management team are decent people once you (in 71 reviews)

  • To the communications department: please stop posting overly positive fake reviews on this site- you are fooling no one (in 27 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Adjudicator"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time

    Pros

    Interesting job, work with great people, get to make a difference and do something that counts. I love working here and I love my job.

    Cons

    Living in London I'd like to be paid a bit more....


  2. Helpful (37)

    "The investigation model has positives but it isn’t sustainable"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Nice people and offices, good benefits and overall the pay isn’t bad for what is essentially a customer service adviser.

    Cons

    I don’t want to come across as some bitter person who should just leave the organisation. I love what we do and actually, the new world has some very good aspects. But unfortunately, I’ve experienced first hand (as an investigator) that the flaws with the new system are too big to simply ignore.

    Knowledge: the answer is in the room. It’s true that someone out there can help you. But what I think was overlooked was that it’s not sustainable for you to not be able to do many cases without asking for help. You should be able to deal with problems because you know how to. Not because someone told you the answer and you don’t know enough to question it. What’s even more insulting is that virtual teams were created to deal with the more complex areas of casework. But there’s no training. I’m part of one and I do what I can dealing with products I’ve no idea about. They go to ombudsman and it gets looked at properly. It’s a great way to ruin staff morale.

    Quality vs quantity: without sounding too big headed, I think I have adjusted well to my role and I’m very good at both quality and quantity. But it isn’t sustainable. I’m exhausted. And I’ve seen a lot of colleagues reaching that point too. Once they were positive about difficult cases and the challenges that brings. But now with a focus back on closures through overtime incentives, people just want easy cases. If you’re bringing a complex case or take up too much of an investigator’s time, any old view will do and let’s get it to an ombudsman as soon as we can. Then it isn’t my problem. That is the reality. How do you really expect someone to look at five pension or investment cases per week and close them over the phone?

    Ombudsman managers: it’s a sad fact that I would no longer feel confident in bringing my own personal complaint to the ombudsman service. Not because people are horrible here, but because I’ve seen that even ombudsmen are getting things wrong. And would I really want my case looked at by one of them? No. I would pray it goes to a “real” ombudsman who actually knows the product area. I’m not trying to be negative it’s just the reality. I’ve seen it myself. Ombudsman managers think the answer is fair (but you can’t decide that without knowing what to base it on) and so try their best to close cases over the phone. Much better as they can’t get juridically reviewed that way.

    Incoming post and phone shifts: we had a few months of overtime because the incoming post was so high. Maybe this is because everyone is already busy enough and you got rid of the department who deal with post? Also phone shifts, they’re scheduled in but you end up doing further shifts through POD cover because there aren’t enough people to answer the phones. If only we had some kind of customer contact division to help with the overspill of calls. Crazy idea.

    Advice to Management

    The changes went too far. It made sense to have the investigation model but you should have kept product areas so your staff feel confident in doing the job. Carry out another survey in 2018 - things have got better but that doesn’t mean much compared to how they were.


  3. Helpful (26)

    "A terrible shame"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    I learned a lot about a wide range of retail financial services and products, finding, interpreting and applying law and regulation to real situations, gauging reasonable expectations to hold firm conduct to, and dipped my toe into the quagmire that is objectively assessing what had often become a subjective, emotive impasse. I was extremely fortunate to gain such valuable experience from my tenure there, and I’m grateful I now actually get to use it.

    Cool people. Well, apart from the uncool people, obvs.

    Cons

    Financial services are complicated, detailed, difficult, and scary. Real people with real problems need real help (often - not always...). FOS can’t deliver that anymore. It doesn’t know how. It has forgotten.

    Well meaning people aren’t enough. Base knowledge of what fair, decent, acceptable, not okay, look and feel like. Capacity and inclination to properly establish and understand, as best as possible, what happened by knowing (or educated guessing) what lines of enquiry might help shine a light on matters. Assessing things empathetically (towards both sides) but dispassionately, with a common sense hat on. Listening carefully to the evidence presented (including what people remember but can’t back up with a document because life’s not like that). Changing your mind. Accepting you don’t know sometimes. Disappointing if that’s just. Not feeling like that’s a problem, because it isn’t. Telling your manager to chill - screw timeliness targets, this one needs time. Ignoring ombudsman when they’re wrong (they’re regularly wrong - now more than ever) in order to do the right thing. Telling an ombudsman you disagree if you disagree. Harping on and on about something not right you care about until someone notices (years too late, normally).

    That’s what empowering people means. Encouraging participation in the debate, listening to what they say, and not disregarding their concerns as irrelevant, incorrect, misguided, they’re stupider than me because I’m more important so I don’t care.

    Empowering people is not two weeks crash course of ‘this is a sort of complaint dictionary. Search for whatever the complaint is about (which hopefully you’ll just know. Pensions are simple. They’re just savings accounts in a fund or something) Then do what the dictionary says.’ Or say you can’t help because ‘commercial decision’ wins the fair and reasonable chippie. Or there’s ‘we’re not a regulator, so we can’t make a firm (sorry - business) change its systems**’. Or reject whatever thing it was with a paragraph. Bonus points for illiteracy. £200 for distress and inconvenience, maybe, because maybe that will make it go away? Wait. No. Trouble and upset. Because whereas distress and inconvenience is a recognised legal and regulatory concept an ombudsman can award due to explicit statutory authority backed up by regulatory rules, T&U is another, more revolutionary way of saying the same thing, only it isn’t the same thing, which is better.

    The ‘system’ generally favours firms. Mostly, they have cash, know-how, documents and sometimes off-putting (souls-destroying) procedures. And firms (business - my bad...) are often less than great at accepting they’re at fault. But a jobbie of a complainant who is just a jobbie because they were born one and so remain, without substantive or indeed any basis, make real, normal, decent people wading through oft-thankless drudgery feel sad, or pointless - possibly fearful, if that jobbie is a really nasty one. And high value complaints are capable of shifting the boot firmly onto the other foot - putting businesses under, bankrupting people, messing up lives.

    It’s not easy. At all. Sometimes it is (or should be) technical, nuanced, and life-changing. Given that, punch-drunk swings at empowering people by attempting to plough them full of misplaced confidence in their judgement on matters they don’t understand is dereliction of the statutory responsibility FOS holds. It’s also hugely unfair on the individuals being encouraged to deal with things they’re not (or shouldn’t be) comfortable with, based on feeling and intuition they can’t hope to have, because often things aren’t simple, and feeling and intuition aren’t enough. Being placed in a position where someone tells me their life savings are gone, please help, and I need to figure out what to do when I don’t even comprehend what they’ve just told me. Then I ask my ombudsman manager and they have no clue either, or they think they do but don’t.

    Perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps the way I think things should be done is wrong. Perhaps I’m not. Perhaps it’s not. I want to respect and believe in FOS. It is (or should be) more important than I think it knows. I don’t want to see it humiliated on TV, it’s senior management to be summoned to awkwardly circumnavigate straightforward questions which have unequivocal definite factual answers.

    I want to have faith that I can rely on FOS to help me if I ever need it. That faith is gone. Hopefully to return some day.

    **(Note: firms are obliged to take heed of ombudsman determinations when, for example, designing systems, and controls to ensure customers are treated fairly and complaints are responded to appropriately. Also, consider that while FCA rules require an adviser to ensure their recommendation is ‘suitable’, day in, day out, ombudsmen flesh out what that means on a case by case basis and publish it for the world to see. What this means is that ombudsman determinations regulate firm conduct, not through rules, but through setting expectations based on interpretation and practical application of those rules. Not a regulator. Tell a firm on the receiving end of a decision telling them they’ve been entering into insurance contracts with customers for 15 years without knowing it...) (Note further: where does it say the ombudsman can’t require a firm to make a change to its systems, if its systems should be changed because they’re not fit for purpose? DISP 3? Nope. FSMA Part XVI? May. It’s possible to quickly and informally tell a bank that the fact they keep on reporting a non-existent CCJ against a single mum fleeing domestic violence who can’t rent a property because the bank’s systems are not fit for purpose. That’s an extreme example, but there are plenty more where that came from)

    Advice to Management

    Start valuing the right things again. The pendulum has swung too far. 2 year ombudsman queues were utterly ridiculous, but asking someone with 2 weeks under their belt to have a clue what to do with a medical insurance claim or a structured product, supported by an ombudsman manager with authority but very possibly similarly out their depth. Come on. Do the right thing. Concede, review, remediate.


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  5. Helpful (14)

    "Started off great and slowly deteriorated..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time

    Pros

    Great colleagues and easy workload if you are dedicated and determined. Progression is seamless and hassle free only if you have a good manager. Great benefits. Good work/life balance only with a good manager that understands your personal circumstances.

    Cons

    As a whole the organisation lost its sense of direction. I think it fell over where it over thought its new approach. Managers are being paid loads for doing nothing. Majority of adjudicators are very self sufficient and are usually most knowledgeable than the managers but are paid less.

    Advice to Management

    Take genuine interest in the team that you manage. Encourage adjudicators/investigators to progress. Avoid micro management and instead learn to build trust where possible.


  6. Helpful (26)

    "Investigator"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Nice offices, benefits and flexible working.

    Generally good people with a willingness to do the right thing.

    Cons

    Inconsistent management, stressful targets and no time for lunch! There may be room for progression - but it's not remotely a fun place to work!

    Advice to Management

    People are more productive when they're happy - so focus on that instead of quarterly targets!

    Everyone within my pod doesn't take lunch and can't forget about work when at home. I have nightmares sometimes and am writing this review while on holiday - because it's impossible to switch off from the day to day stress!

    We're good people that want to give fair answers - but the pressure we're under means we're carrying around the guilt of not knowing whether we've got the right answer, scared this will show up in a QA and still not being able to meet target within our 7 contracted hours!


  7. Helpful (3)

    "work that matter"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time

    Pros

    The people are some of the nicest I have ever worked with, everyone really pulls together and does their best.

    The benefits are brilliant, a huge amount of flexible working is available and pay is reasonable.

    Cons

    There is limited career progression


  8. "Great organisation with a great culture and focus - stop complaining on here, if you hate the place so much just leave!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Manager in London, England
    Current Employee - Manager in London, England
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Good, generous benefits, location, office space and people.

    People are valued and they care about your work/life balance - there's little to no expectation of overtime - most other places I've worked there's significant pressure to stay until the job's done whereas there's a perverse aversion to targets and holding people to account.

    The management genuinely care about the business and the people within it - reading some of the reviews on here Caroline is some cross between Stalin and Basil Fawlty. My encounters with her have been to see someone who is genuinely passionate about the service. They've made some obvious mistakes - like getting rid of CCD but nobody can really dispute the need for significant change and the fact that the previous model was unsustainable.

    The focus of the organisation is genuinely to serve a public good and I've personally found that hugely rewarding.

    Cons

    The change programme hasn't been managed particularly well. Getting rid of CCD but then bringing back a 'transition pod' is hugely inefficient.

    Focusing on short term gain with incentivising things like overtime rather than tackling the more widespread structural challenges seems unsustainable.

    There is insufficient accountability and transparency on who's responsible for delivering what. Flip flopping on targets and what's expected of people just means its more difficult to ever hold people accountable. A much more sensible approach would be to gradually ramp things up as the new model was introduced.

    There seems to be a bit of a fear of upsetting people and not taking decisions.

    There's some strange nostalgia for lots of people, thinking the place was some utopia a few years ago.

    Advice to Management

    Get rid of the deadwood and incentivise the good people. There's too many people sitting around with time to complain on Glassdoor. There's plenty of untapped talent and we could really make this organisation a happy productive place.

    Don't focus on the Dispatches episode too much - focus on the day job and that will fix whatever it is they broadcast. There's always a few bad apples which will no doubt come to light.


  9. Helpful (4)

    "Difficult job, but pays well for what it is"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Current Employee - Investigator in London, England
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great people to work with
    Varied work
    Relatively good work/life balance
    Pay is reasonable
    Not as bad as people say it is, a lot of the negative reviews are from people who had it really easy before and have been made to do more difficult work and don't like change

    Cons

    Tough, workload can become unmanageable
    Bad communication from senior management, but to their credit it has improved dramatically and continues to improve


  10. "Reasonable organisation"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in London, England
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Fun, young team, engaged ombudsman

    Cons

    Limited progression, disorganised, poor senior management


  11. Helpful (14)

    "An unconventional stepping stone into a career in business/management consulting"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Financial Ombudsman Service full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    As a senior adjudicator, the work only really becomes interesting when you open your eyes and begin to see the bigger picture of ‘why’ the work matters, and ‘how’ it fits into the world of business and alternative dispute resolution (i.e arbitration, mediation, early neutral evaluation etc).

    It’s hard to see the organisation as a proper business when it’s not-for-profit, but it’s still a business nonetheless. It has a sales and client services function like most other mid-large sized businesses. It also has a HR function, a finance function, an IT function, a legal & governance function, and a PR & corporate communications function - all the essential functions needed to make the organisation work. So for anyone wanting to learn/observe how business works, it’s not a bad place to be.

    The work of an adjudicator is unique because it isn’t just about casework alone. Look closer and you’ll find it also spans certain aspects of sales, customer relationship management/client services and communications - requiring strong critical thinking, interpersonal skills and written communication skills to really be good at the work.

    Furthermore, the work provides valuable insights into business from the perspective of ‘when business goes wrong, and customers aren’t happy’. It also gives invaluable insights into the sales processes of some of the largest retail banks, insurance companies and smaller players across the U.K. financial sector. It doesn’t take much to realise that such insight would be useful for companies wanting help in developing their customer experience strategy . Especially as many leaders of companies around the world (not just the U.K.) are placing such heavy emphasis on designing extraordinary customer experiences that minimise the risk of complaints and build more customer loyalty.

    All in all, not a bad environment to grow, develop commercial awareness and acquire business acumen - for a career in consulting, strategy development, business etc. But it depends on your mindset, your career goals, and how good you are at marketing the skills you’ve gained here.

    Cons

    The organisation seems to be burdened with bureaucracy, nepotism and lethargy. It desperately needs new energy from the top down.

    I’m sure the senior management team are decent people once you’ve actually gotten to know them (which is still a struggle when you have such a tall organisational hierarchy). But they’re more like general managers as opposed to business leaders. I can tell because there’s no real corporate vision, no real energy, and there isn’t much of an emphasis on communicating and reinforcing ‘why’ the work is so important, across the organisation.

    Managers fret about the past, Entrepreneurs live in the future. How can the organisation evolve if it’s being run by managers?

    Also, for the work adjudicators do they’re underpaid. Time for a re-evaluation.

    Advice to Management

    Be enthusiastic about the business, not just managing the organisation and collecting a wage. Bring in new leadership from diverse backgrounds.


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