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FRIDAY FAQ: What is the role of the Financial Ombudsman?

Every Friday we aim to post an answer to a FAQ about mortgages, tax, investments, money matters, business or retirement. You can have your say too. Send an email with your FAQ to

This article does not constitute advice. Professional advice should be taken prior to acting on any part of it. 

Q: What is the role of the Financial Ombudsman?

Answer: The Financial Ombudsman (FOS) is an independent complaints service set up by Parliament to help consumers deal with issues concerning financial institutions.

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, their service is for help with problems related to:

  • bank accounts
  • credit, debit and store cards
  • payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • other insurance, like motor, travel and household
  • loans (including payday loans)
  • other credit, like car finance
  • mortgages
  • repayment problems and debt collection
  • money transfers and online payments
  • financial advice, savings and investments
  • pensions

If you have an issue listed above, in the first instance you should follow the company’s official complaints process. If they don’t handle the complaint in a timely manner (8 weeks) or if you are dissatisfied with the result, then you can reach out to the FOS.

You must contact the Financial Ombudsman within six months of the company sending their final response to you and within six years of the complaining event. If it has been more than six years, you need to reach out within three years of the time you could have known you had grounds for complaint.

Once you engage with FOS, they will conduct an investigation then provide an impartial opinion on the matter. They may find that there was simply a misunderstanding or that there was actually no wrongdoing and if that’s the case, they offer an explanation of their findings. However, if they conclude you have been treated unfairly, they have legal authority to right the wrong.

If you do find yourself working with the Financial Ombudsman Service, be sure to let your financial advisor know. If your situation will affect your financial affairs, they will be the best resource during a difficult time.

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