View more on these topics

Complaints Commissioner: ‘FCA should be less defensive’

FCA logo glass 620x430

The Complaints Commissioner has criticised the FCA for adopting a defensive attitude when handling complaints and for failing to admit its shortcomings in “awkward” cases.

The Complaints Commisioner reviews complaints against the FCA, the FSA, the Bank of England and the Prudential Regulation Authority after firms have been through the relevant regulator’s own complaints process.

In its annual report, tabled before Parliament yesterday, Complaints Commissioner Antony Townsend says the FCA dealt with the majority of complaints competently and fairly.

But he adds: “I have seen examples of an unwillingness to face up to and admit shortcomings, and delays in dealing with “awkward” cases. There has also been a tendency to find reasons for excluding cases from the complaints scheme in circumstances where, in my view, they should not have been excluded.”

The commissioner dealt with 139 complaints against the FCA and its predecessor the FSA in the 12 months to 31 March.

The report says in 13 per cent of the 60 concluded FCA cases, the commissioner overturned the FCA’s decision in whole or in part. In a quarter of those cases Townsend made suggestions for improvement or criticised elements of the complaint handling.

Townsend says: “The FCA must resist the tendency to become introspective and defensive. The complaints scheme must be seen for what it is: a tool to put things right, a means to learn from mistakes, and a system to enable complainants and others to have confidence that the organisation is effective and fair. It is not a narrow and legalistic process to manage the litigious.”

The commissioner made three suggestions for improvement to the FCA: that it must adequately resource its complaints handling team, that the complaints team must have appropriate confidence, authority and political backing, and that the regulator should pay more attention to complaints handling deadlines.

The FCA responds: “In his report, the commissioner has made some important observations which we take seriously. Separately, the commissioner has also suggested improvements to the current scheme. We will be considering these suggestions alongside other work that we have underway to ensure that the scheme and our application of it is continuously improving.

“We continually aim to improve how satisfied complainants are with the way they are treated when they make a complaint. 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 commissioner’s scrutiny and recommendations will help us to achieve this.”

The FCA plans, along with the PRA and the Bank of England, to review the complaints scheme, including a public consultation, later in 2016.



Waspi urges DWP mass-mailing to fuel Ombudsman complaints

The Women Against State Pension Inequality group is organising a mass-mailing to the Department for Work and Pensions in the hope it will lead to formal complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The group, which wants transitional measures for women who have seen their state pension age increase, provide an email template and detail how to […]

FCA logo new 3 620x430

FCA slammed by complaints watchdog over handling of whistleblower

The Complaints Commissioner has slated the FCA over its handling of a whistleblower’s report citing admin errors, poor communication between departments and “insufficient rigour”. The FCA must pay the complainant £300 compensation as well as carrying out a proper assessment of the information and evidence the whistleblower has, if they agree to it. The complainant wrote […]


Profile: The complaints commissioner on regulating the regulators

For his first job in financial services, Antony Townsend has certainly gone in at the top: regulating the regulator. He  took over the role of complaints commissioner last May, tasked with independently reviewing complaints about the actions of the FCA, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Bank of England. And while he has not previously […]

Trouble ahead - thumbnail

Pensions: trouble ahead?

The pace of change in the pension’s space has been little short of astonishing, and has left thousands of employers struggling to keep their pension policy compliant, and also on the right side of current best practice and governance. Many employers, and indeed many in the pensions industry itself, would like to see a period of no change during the next term of government. This would give all sides a chance to catch up and draw breath. 


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Do as I say…?

  2. But the CC has no powers of enforcement over the FCA and nor does any other body. The FCA just makes a few contrite noises then carries on much the same as ever. Andrew Bailey has said that his agenda is no different from that of his predecessor. Great! When is the government going to do something about this and give both the CC and the TSC the powers they need to hold the FCA to account?

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm