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Financial Ombudsman Service: Setting up a brand-new business unit to manage millions of PPI mis-selling claims

The mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) has been huge in the UK – banks expect to pay out some £30 billion in compensation and fines. The scandal also created an unprecedented challenge for the Financial Ombudsman Service (the Ombudsman), the independent organisation that settles complaints by consumers against financial services businesses. 

Following a high-court decision in 2011, the Ombudsman started to receive PPI complaints at a rate of 1,000 per week, compared with around 2,000 other cases, eventually reaching a peak of 15,000 per week. A backlog of tens of thousands of PPI cases grew rapidly. The Ombudsman realised that they needed to take dramatic action. They asked us to help set up a brand-new PPI business unit as quickly as possible. 

We designed and managed a comprehensive programme to do it. That included developing efficient processes for handling cases, building decision support software, recruiting and training staff, defining how the new unit would operate, and setting up new offices. Within six months, the new business unit was up and running, with the first 100 staff in place.

As the flow of PPI complaints grew– we continued to support the Ombudsman. That included recruiting and training over 2,000 staff over two years, and helping the Ombudsman prioritise cases in managing down the backlog in the fairest and fastest way possible.

Our work helped the Ombudsman to deal with an extraordinary surge in demand that could have overwhelmed the organisation. It also helped make sure that consumers hit by the PPI scandal can get the compensation they’re entitled to.

“The scale of the PPI challenge can’t be underestimated – it’s a challenge that remains with us today, more than 5 years after the first signs that demand for our help would reach new and unprecedented levels. The support that PA provided in those early days not only helped get us in the best possible shape, but it is help that has endured. The foundations PA helped lay mean we are able to navigate and respond to continuing uncertainty as we wait to be able to see PPI through to its conclusion.”

Richard Thompson, principal ombudsman and quality director   

Find out more about our work in implementation.

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