Pensions poach new ombudsman from insurance: Julian Farrand succeeds Michael Platt

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The Independent Online
DR JULIAN Farrand, the insurance ombudsman, has been appointed as the second pensions ombudsman, succeeding Michael Platt, who is retiring.

During his five years as the insurance ombudsman, the number of complaints handled by his department increased from 2,000 to 8,133 a year.

Dr Farrand is understood to have been unhappy about the recent scaling down of his powers following the appointment of Stephen Edell, previously the building societies ombudsman, as the ombudsman for the Personal Investment Authority, the new City regulator. Mr Edell will now deal with many of the complaints about life insurance and pensions that were previously handled by the insurance ombudsman.

The Insurance Ombudsman Bureau estimates Mr Edell's appointment will cut the number of investigations it handles by one-third. It will only deal with general insurance such as household or motor.

The pensions ombudsman office, which is expected to publish its annual report shortly, deals with only 10 per cent of pensions complaints. The Occupational Pensions Advisory Service deals with 90 per cent of all complaints about pensions.

During his term as insurance ombudsman, Dr Farrand alienated many insurance companies. Last year, Aegon Life tried to overturn one of his rulings on compensation for losses sustained by clients who invested through its flexible investment bond, but it lost its High Court action.

Dr Farrand also ruffled City feathers by trying to bring complaints about endowment mortgages into his remit.

Last year, the pensions ombudsman dealt with 2,000 complaints. Only about 5 per cent, just over 100, went through the entire complaints procedure. Of those, three out of four were settled in favour of the complainant.

Dr Farrand will be replaced at the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau by Laurie Slade, the deputy ombudsman. Announcing the appointment, Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, said: 'The pensions ombudsman has a major role in protecting the interests of pension scheme members. It is a post to which I attach a great deal of importance.'