The FSA has fined Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest £2.8m for poor complaint-handling procedures and hinted that another bank may be sanctioned.
It found that of the RBS and NatWest complaint files reviewed, 53 per cent showed deficient complaint handling. Sixty-two per cent showed a failure to comply with FSA requirements on timelines and disclosure of referral rights to the Financial Ombudsman Service and 31 per cent failed to demonstrate fair outcomes for consumers.
RBS says: “We acknowledge the findings of the FSA investigation. We recognise the importance of complaint handling for our customers and are focused on addressing the root causes of complaints.”
The fine follows a review carried out by the FSA relating to banks’ complaint-handling between July 2008 and June 2009.
In April 2010, the FSA revealed that two banks had been referred to enforcement for further investigation. The FSA has confirmed RBS and NatWest are considered to be one bank in the context of the review, suggesting one more bank could still be fined.
FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “The review showed that banks need to make major changes to handle consumer complaints fairly and the FSA will continue to take appropriate action to ensure these changes are put in place.”
Thameside director Tom Kean says: “The RBS and NatWest fine just sounds like a slap on the wrist. It will be interesting to see who ends up paying the £2.8m. Bearing in mind the bank is still majority-owned by the taxpayer, is it going to be the taxpayer that ultimately ends up paying for this?”