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Chief Ombudsman's Message


In our three-year strategic plan released last year, we outlined our commitment to share our knowledge and experience with both our members and the consumer sector. We want to share this knowledge so that everyone can learn from the significant number of disputes we see each year.

Our aim is that more disputes are resolved earlier directly between the parties, with only the more complex and difficult making their way to FOS. If a dispute does come to FOS, we want to do everything we can to help the dispute resolve as quickly as possible.

With this in mind, I am pleased to launch The FOS Approach – a new style of document that outlines the way we look at different types of disputes. We have published similar documents before as articles in The Circular, and as bulletins and practice notes through our predecessor schemes. The aim of these documents has always been to provide practical information and explain our approach on substantive issues, but I hope you’ll find The FOS Approach easier to read and use.

We want to share the way we approach different types of disputes – the issues we will look at, the things we will consider, and the relevant Codes, legal principles, obligations and industry best practice that we will apply – so that members, consumer representatives and consumers can better understand how FOS will deal with their disputes.

The first in our series of The FOS Approach focuses on financial difficulty disputes.

We encourage consumers to be open with their bank, insurer or other financial services provider about their financial situation and for our member financial services providers (FSPs) to work with their customers to reach a solution that helps overcome their  customer’s  financial difficulty.

If this can’t be done and the dispute comes to us, The FOS Approach is designed to help both parties better understand what we expect from them, and how we will approach their financial difficulty dispute.

In this edition, you will also notice some new features that will become a regular part of The Circular, such as interviews with staff, and insights from our members and consumer representatives.  We will also be posting a webinar on financial difficulty to our website shortly so please look out for that.

If you have any feedback on The FOS Approach or anything else you read in The Circular, please let us know by emailing