Caroline Wayman, Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has announced that she is stepping down from the role on 16 thApril, after 22 years in the service and nearly 7 years as Chief Executive.

Announcing her departure to ombudsman service staff, Wayman said “After nearly seven years as chief ombudsman & chief executive, I have decided that the time is right for me to step down from the role. It’s been an honour and a privilege to have led the service throughout this time.”

“The service has reached a pivotal point; in 2021 we expect to receive our final PPI cases and as nations, organisations and individuals, we are contemplating a landscape shaped and forever changed by a global pandemic. It’s against this backdrop, that the service is embarking on the next phase of its journey and it’s time for me to do the same.”

“As I bid my colleagues and my many friends here a heartfelt farewell, I wish the board, the executive team and my successor the very best. And in looking to the next chapter in my career, I shall take the ombudsman service culture and values with me and I will hold dear the resilience and fortitude of everyone who works here and your enduring commitment to do the very best for our customers.”

In giving thanks on behalf of the board, Chairman Baroness Zahida Manzoor CBE said “Caroline’s departure comes at the end of a long career, during which time she’s played a key role in significant milestones in the service’s history. Most recently, Caroline has, of course, been steering the service through its response to Covid-19, ensuring operational resilience and balancing the dual responsibilities of serving customers and supporting staff, during these most challenging of times.”

“On behalf of the board, the executive and all the staff at the service, I would like to record our thanks and wish Caroline every success in her future endeavours”.

The appointment of the Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive will be made by the FOS board. An open process for recruitingWayman’s successor will begin shortly.

Commenting on the news, The Consumer Credit Trade Association (CCTA) said “It is no secret that we have long been concerned about the management of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Our most recent concerns have been about the organisation’s finances- both the funding model and runaway spending.”

“Just as important is that we tackle Claims Management Companies’ (CMCs) activities.” Regulators have identified cases of fraudulent activity, the misrepresentation of individuals and the misuse of their data. Yet, the FOS seems happy to encourage them and give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“As we look ahead, the next Chief Executive must ensure that the Ombudsman provides an impartial service that works for consumers and firms. The FOS needs to help tackle bad practice by CMCs and ensure that customer data is protected and not misused. For firms, there needs to be consistency of approach and better understanding of consumers, products and the challenges facing firms.”