Financial Ombudsman Service

financial ombudsman service

Occasionally, you may feel unhappy with the quality of service you have received or you feel you are being overcharged. Every financial institution will have a complaints procedure in place and will aim to resolve your complaint to the best of their ability. If however they are not able to resolve matters to your satisfaction, you can then turn to the Financial Ombudsman Service who will investigate the complaint on your behalf.

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The Financial Ombudsman Service [FOS] is a free service whose job is to settle complaints between consumers and businesses providing financial services. They are sanctioned by the government and act as impartial, independent financial experts (much like a judge would be if the case went to court). If they find a complaint is justified, they have the power to order matters to be corrected via the courts. The FOS is not a regulator or 'watchdog'. Their job is simply to help settle disputes and ensure both sides receive a fair hearing before deciding whether action is required. The service is strictly confidential and at no point are names of businesses or customers publicised.

The Financial Ombudsman Service can address a huge range of complaints from many financial areas including:

  • bankingĀ 
  • insurance
  • mortgages
  • pensions
  • savings and investments
  • credit cards and store cards
  • loans and credit
  • hire purchase and pawnbroking
  • financial advice and
  • stocks, shares, unit trusts and bonds

The Financial Ombudsman Service has a lot of experience when dealing in the financial sector and deals with approximately a million enquires and settle 100,000 disputes each year.

If a business cannot settle a complaint to the customer's satisfaction, the FOS can then step in but the business must first have the opportunity to sort things out itself. Unfortunately, the FOS process can be quite lengthy with some complex disputes taking between six to nine months to resolve.

You do not have to accept the decision the FOS makes and are free to go to court instead, however, if an ombudsman decision is accepted, it is binding on both the consumer and the business. Secondly, FOS cannot handle complaints that have already been scrutinised by the courts.

Filing a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service

A complaint can only be filed with the Financial Ombudsman Service once the financial institution's internal complaints procedure has been exhausted without a satisfactory response.

There are many ways to contact them either via telephone on 0845 080 1800, email at or via post by posting the form below to The Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR

Further information about the Financial Ombudsman Service can be found at their website

Advantages of the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • The FOS offers protection for consumers. If you feel a business has not resolved a complaint to your satisfaction, they can offer free, impartial and professional advice and help take your complaint to the next stage
  • The FOS have legal powers enabling them to enforce the decisions they make

Disadvantages of the Financial Ombudsman Service

  • The financial institution's internal complaints procedure must be exhausted before the FOS will review a complaint. This is to allow the company adequate opportunity to resolve matters themselves
  • It can take a long time for the Financial Ombudsman Service to make a decision regarding a complaint can take as long as 6-9 months


  • The FOS is a free service to help settle disputes between consumers and financial insitiutions
  • They are sanctioned by the government and have powers to enforce their decisions
  • You must firstly file your complaint using the business's internal complaints procedure. Only once this process has been exhausted without adequate response can you contact FOS.
  • Once an ombudsman decision has been accepted, it is binding for both the consumer and the business

For more information about 'The Financial Ombudsman Service', you can call us on 020 8783 1337 or submit an online quote.