Over the last 18 months, we have been consulting with FOS’s stakeholders about helping us improve the way we resolve disputes. Since then, we have made significant changes to streamline, simplify and improve the quality of FOS’s dispute processes.
In addition to reaching our goal of eliminating the dispute backlog in our case management area, we have also reduced dispute backlog at the Decision stage. Our new Decision formats have been well received by stakeholders and we will continue to enhance them to ensure an efficient dispute resolution process.
Redesigning our dispute resolution process
This FOS dispute resolution process flow chart provides information for members on our dispute process starting 1 July 2015. The detailed flow chart explains how we approach disputes, the different stages a dispute may progress and who is involved in the Decision stage. A simplified version is also available. We will be producing similar guidance for consumers.
We are continuing to work on the Document Exchange portal which will help consumers and financial services providers view dispute documentation and information through a secure online portal. We will conduct comprehensive technology testing over the coming months and we aim to introduce this portal for FSPs in July 2015 and applicants later in the year.
Fast track for simpler, low-value disputes
The Fast Track process, which is a faster dispute handling process for simpler, lower-value disputes that do not require lengthy investigation, has now been extended to all financial services providers.
As at the end of March, we had progressed 967 disputes through the Fast Track process. 841 of these disputes are now closed, with 96% closing within 60 days and a large proportion closing even quicker (the average time for closing these disputes was 29 days).
Financial Difficulty changes launched on 1 April
Providing for earlier contact, flexible pathways, consistent decision-making
On 1 April we began a staged implementation of our new process for handling financial difficulty disputes. This new approach has a strong focus on conciliation and quick resolution wherever possible and features early phone contact with the Applicants. We will be increasing the number of cases we handle through the new approach over May and June and from 1 July 2015, all financial difficulty disputes will follow this new, enhanced process.
Support to provide financial information
We know that well-prepared financial information supports sound decision-making in financial difficulty disputes. Most applicants will successfully use FOS’s electronic Statement of Financial Position (due for initial release in May-June 2015) however some financial difficulty applicants need help to put this information together. We are continuing to take financial information over the phone (which we previously piloted), and will be reviewing how this goes over the next few months, in conjunction with the electronic Statement of Financial Position rollout.