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					       ILAG                                                  Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                   The Practitioner Voice




Eiko Heffer
Financial Ombudsman Service
South Quay Plaza
183 Marsh Wall
London
E14 9SR

9 December 2011


Dear Eiko,

Response to: Publishing Ombudsman decisions – Transparency and the Financial
Ombudsman Service

ILAG is a trade body representing members from the Life Assurance and Wealth
Management Industries.

ILAG members share and develop their practical experiences and expertise, applying this
practitioner knowledge to the development of their businesses, both individually and
collectively, for the benefit of members and their customers.

A list of ILAG members is at the end of this submission.

Generally, ILAG supports the publication of FOS decisions. However, we have concerns
about:

      how this is achieved
      how this information may be misused,
      The consequences of misuse

We note, too, that the Financial Services Bill will only require FOS to publish determinations
if it considers it appropriate to do so.

As this consultation has been issued following a Government review of all Ombudsmen
services, we would be interested to know how FOS proposals compare with the proposals
and experience of other ombudsman schemes.

Our responses to the specific consultation questions are attached and we would be happy to
discuss our response in more detail.

Yours sincerely




Mark Searle
Administration Team




          Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                                Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR
      ILAG                                                    Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                    The Practitioner Voice




Response to specific Consultation questions

Question 1 - Do you agree with our overall approach? Are there other considerations
we should bear in mind, in approaching the publication of our ombudsmen’s final
decisions?

We agree in general, but there are a number of issues which FOS has not considered,
discussed in our response to Question 6 below.

It is likely that there will be such a high volume of data published that it will be difficult for it to
be viewed objectively. There is also a danger that reporting in media might be selective and
based on stories initiated by CMCs.

Question 2 - Do you agree that we should not publish the views of adjudicators –
instead limiting the publication of decisions to those made by our ombudsmen?

Yes, otherwise the information would be unwieldy.

Question 3 - Do you agree that our published reports on cases should not normally be
specially commissioned summaries, but the actual determination made by the
ombudsman (subject to the appropriate safeguards)?

We consider that FOS over estimates the value of this information to consumers. With
around 300/400 published decisions each week we believe this would be too much for
consumers to read and obtain value from.

We support FOS proposal to conduct consumer research to establish more clearly what
information consumers require. Such research should focus on whether information should
be disclosed and how it should be disclosed in the context of what FOS already publishes.

A significant amount information is already available from FOS, including Ombudsman News
and the FOS Annual Review and publication of complaints data. We believe this level of
information is adequate and a publication of the outcome of each decision would provide
only marginal incremental value.

If consumer research reveals that Ombudsman decisions need to be disclosed, we would be
in favour of this being in full but with both parties involved in the case remaining anonymous.

It is very difficult to assess the implications for firms (especially smaller firms) of the impact
of disclosing the name of the firm that is defending the complaint. Damage caused would be
almost impossible to reverse. There will presumably also be decisions where a firm intends
to pursue the matter through the Courts and in such circumstances any public disclosure of
the Ombudsman decision might prejudice the outcome.

We note too that FOS intends to engage with regulated firms regarding its proposals and we
would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.




           Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                                 Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR
       ILAG                                                  Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                   The Practitioner Voice




Question 4 - Overall do you think our proposed approach strikes the right balances
between transparency, protecting genuinely confidential information and the costs of
implementation?

Yes.

Question 5 - Do you think the steps we propose are sufficient to protect consumer
identities and personal information – or are there other specific steps we should take?

Yes.

Question 6 - Do you agree that we should not seek to protect the identity of financial
businesses? If you disagree, what other steps would you want us to take?

We would be interested in any evidence FOS has for claiming that CMCs will not use
disclosed Ombudsman adjudications for their own commercial purposes. For example
organisations which cold call trying to drum up whiplash claims arising from long-settled car
accident cases, and PPI complaints from consumers whom they have no reason to suppose
have ever effected loans, are not likely to have scruples about misusing the publication of
Ombudsman decisions.

We wonder if FOS is concerned about the increase in the proportion of complaints being
referred to Ombudsmen, (as commented on in the consultation). If FOS proposals are
implemented an unintended consequence might be that companies may feel pressurised to
accept adjudicators’ decisions with which they do not agree rather than risk a damaging
Ombudsman decision. We note FOS' comment that 80% of adjudicators’ decisions are
accepted and that of those which are not, some are ‘judgement calls’ and others come about
because new facts arise; does FOS wish to increase the figure to 90% or even more?

Naming the financial company, but not the complainant, is clearly one-sided. Although we
would not suggest naming the complainant, naming the firm might lead to more settlements
of undeserving cases to avoid appearing too often in the FOS stats.

Perhaps firms should only be named if complaints against them reach a certain value or
volume threshold. The threshold might need to be related to the size of the firm as larger
firms will receive more complaints than smaller ones. However, as FSA already lists
complaints by company there seems little point in FOS doing so as well.

We support FOS continuing its previous practice of occasionally publishing anonymised full
decisions, which raise issues of wider significance, systemic issues and matters of
fundamental significance. We believe that if FOS gave more publicity to the most important
decisions it would be of greater benefit to consumers than if all were published.

Question 7 - Do you agree with our planned approach to the identities of third parties
– including other financial businesses, professionals, other representatives and third-
party businesses?

No, please see comments under our response to questions 3 and 6




          Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                                Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR
        ILAG                                                   Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                     The Practitioner Voice




Question 8 - Do you agree that we should reserve the right not to publish certain
decisions – or to exempt information in other exceptional circumstances?

Yes, but to be fair to firms whose decisions are published, such cases should be few and far
between and individually justified.

Question 9 - Are there other considerations about safeguarding personal information
that are not covered in this paper and that we need to take into account?

No.

Question 10 - What impacts do you believe publication of decisions as we propose
will have – on consumers, financial businesses and on our service?

Please see comments in 6 above. We do not believe that consumers will have much interest
unless prompted by sensationalist reporting.

There will be an effect on:

       FOS: will need to aim for higher level of consistency and quality of decision making.
       Insurers: will have better understanding of FOS. Increased vulnerability to CMCs,
        bad publicity – warranted and unwarranted, tactical settlements of unmeritorious
        complaints
       CMCs: we recognise that CMCs can provide a valuable service for some clients in
        some circumstances but nevertheless publication of data as proposed will provide a
        goldmine of information on themes, and individual companies for some CMCs to
        generate more complaints.
       Journalists: Probably too much info for a journalist to research properly. May rely on
        knee-jerk analysis or selective research of CMCs.
       Customers: No direct effect. Would only pick up info through CMCs or news media.

We assume that FOS is happy for its decisions to be made public and that its decisions will
therefore come under even greater scrutiny than hitherto in terms of allegations of
inconsistency, lack of fairness, speed of handling etc.

The potential threat posed by claims management companies (mis)using this information
seems to have been dismissed by FOS without serious consideration. We wonder whether
FOS should seek the views of the CMC regulatory body and others.

Question 11 - Do you agree with our approach to the timing of publication? If not,
when should decisions be published and why?

If the data is to be published, the proposed timetable seems reasonable.

If FOS decisions are to be published at all, publication should be timely and only when FOS
is sure that the parties do not intend to take further action.




            Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                                  Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR
       ILAG                                                 Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                  The Practitioner Voice




Question 12 - Do you agree with our approach to the form of publication?

Yes.

We agree that website publication is the best medium.

Question 13 - Do you have any comments on when we should start publication of
decisions – and what are your views on past decisions?

No.

We have no particular view on when publication should start. We do not believe that
publication of past decisions would be a good use of FOS time or money.

Question 14 - Do you agree that we should adopt the same approach across all of our
jurisdictions – and specifically do you agree we should cover our voluntary
jurisdiction in the same way as our compulsory (FSA/FCA) jurisdiction and our
consumer-credit jurisdiction?

We are not sure why the voluntary jurisdiction should be included. Why would a firm wish to
submit to a voluntary jurisdiction if it could result in adverse publicity?

Ends




         Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                               Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR
     ILAG                                                   Investment & Life Assurance Group
                                                                  The Practitioner Voice




ILAG Membership
AXA Wealth                                              Met Life UK
Barclays Wealth                                         Metropolitan Police Friendly Society Ltd
Barnett Waddingham                                      MGM Advantage
Bupa Health Assurance                                   Mazars
Canada Life Limited                                     Oxford Actuaries and Consultants plc
Capita Life and Pensions Services                       Pacific Life Re
Co-operative Financial Services                         Partnership Assurance
Defaqto                                                 Phoenix Group
Deloitte LLP                                            Pinsent Masons
Ecclesiastical Insurance Group                          PricewaterhouseCoopers
Ernst & Young                                           Reliance Mutual
Family Investments                                      RGA
Fil Life Insurance Limited                              Royal London Group
Friends Life                                            Sanlam Life & Pensions
General Reinsurance (London Branch)                     SCOR Global UK Limited.
Hannover Life Re (UK) Ltd                               Skandia UK
HSBC Bank Plc                                           Suffolk Life
Just Retirement Limited                                 Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada
HCL Insurance BPO Services Limited                      Swiss Re Europe SA (UK Branch)
KPMG                                                    The Children’s Mutual
Logica                                                  Towers Watson
London & Colonial Assurance PLC                         Vertex
LV=                                                     Wesleyan Assurance Society
Milliman                                                Zurich


Associate Members

AKG Actuaries and Consultants Ltd
Steve Dixon Consultants and Actuaries
McCurrach Financial Services
Meteor Asset Management
NMG Financial Services Consulting Limited
State Street Investor Services




         Investment & Life Assurance Group Limited. Registered in England and Wales: company no 06295782
                               Registered office: Kettering Parkway Kettering NN15 6XR

				
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