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Regulatory complaints soar 15%

Regulatory complaints soar 15%

Complaints and enquiries to the Complaints Commissioner about the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Financial Services Authority (FSA) rose 15% over the past year.

In an annual report, the Complaints Commissioner, Antony Townsend, revealed that he had received 83 new complaints and enquiries regarding the FCA and FSA during the 2015-16 period, up from 72 in the previous year.

The commissioner also had 19 complaints against the regulators open at the start of the period, and reopened 37 cases over the course of the year.

How many cases were considered?

The commissioner requires that all complaints are initially taken up with the regulator in question. Eight cases had not yet been passed by the regulator and were referred to the FCA for an initial investigation.

In 18 instances the FCA had not finished considering the cases in question and were deferred pending completion of the regulator’s own investigation.

The other 113 complaints were considered by the commissioner, though a number of these were reopened cases which could be closed without action and six were returned to the FCA for further investigation.

How were complaints concluded?

The commissioner excluded 14 cases against the FCA, which may have pertained to irrelevant legislative functions such as rules, guidance and general policies.

A further 27 were reviewed without formal investigation after concluding that a review of the regulator’s own investigation would be sufficient.

In 2014-15 only eight cases against the FCA and FSA were formally investigated, however, this rose to 19 for the 2015-16 period.

What were these complaints about?

Of the 60 cases concluded by the commissioner, 18 accused the FCA and FSA of failing to regulate properly.

Another 11 complainants were concerned that rules issued by the regulators disadvantaged them in some way, while six addressed the failure to disclose regulator action against a firm.

The final 25 represented a variety of other complaints.

Who submitted these complaints?

The commissioner found that 46 complaints were submitted by members of the public, while eight came from firms themselves.

Only five were submitted by individual financial advisers and one came from a third party.

How often did the commissioner support the regulators’ judgement?

In 37 cases the Complaints Commissioner upheld the regulators’ decision, while a further 15 were upheld with either criticisms or suggestions for improvement.

Five complaints saw the FCA and FSA’s decision partly upheld and partly overturned.

Only three cases led to the regulators’ decision being overturned.

What remedies did the commissioner suggest?

The commissioner concluded that 40 complaints required no further remedy.

Three complaints resulted in an apology, five saw the regulators ordered to put things right and two required compensation for the complainant.

What more can be done?

The commissioner concluded that the regulators could avoid a number of complaints by clarifying whether unregulated products from regulated firms are protected by the FCA.

He also suggested that the FCA expand on its explanations rather than becoming defensive and introspective towards complainants.

In response to the commissioner’s findings, the FCA said: “We value the important role that the commissioner carries out and appreciate his insight and advice on areas where we can make improvements to our processes.

“While we may occasionally disagree with his view, we are continually learning from his decisions and we take them into account when we decide the most appropriate way to treat new complaints.”

The FCA revealed that it had recently introduced a new case management system and mandatory training for staff to improve the way it handles complaints.

“Whatever the eventual outcome of the complaint, we want complainants to feel that the issue they have raised has been fully and fairly considered, that they have been kept informed and treated with respect,” the FCA added.

“The commissioner’s scrutiny and recommendations will help us to achieve this.” 

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