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FCA blasted over ‘attitude problems’

The FCA has been criticised by the Complaints Commissioner for a lack of empathy and openness, which it attributes to the regulator’s “attitudinal problems”.

The Complaints Commissioner 2017/18 annual report says the FCA needs to tackle problems with “defensiveness, lack of candour, and lack of empathy”.

The report says while only a small proportion of complaints dealt with by the regulator are seen by the commissioner, there is enough proof to suggest more needs to be done to promote an open and empathetic culture at the FCA.

The report says: “The commissioner continues to urge the FCA to promote a culture in which consumers, regulated individuals and firms, and all those interacting with the FCA are dealt with sympathetically and ensure that those considering complaints provide robust internal challenge within the organisation, rather than simply seeking to defend what has happened.”

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Figures in the report show the FCA received 557 complaints in the last financial year, slightly less than in the 590 in 2016/17, but up significantly from 464 in 2015/16.

Recommendations given to the FCA by the Complaints Commissioner last year also called for more empathy in dealings with stakeholders.

Complaints Commissioner Antony Townsend says: “Too much time is spent in constructing defences for past actions, rather than considering whether things might have been done better and could be done better in future. It is incumbent on all public organisations, such as the FCA, to ensure they deal with people humanely.”

Responding to the findings, the FCA says: “We do accept that we could seem defensive sometimes and we will work on how to communicate in a more effective and transparent way. We believe that approaching complainants with empathy is essential [and] occasionally we know we could have done better in recognising the impact that we have.”

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The regulator also came under fire for how it interacts with small businesses.

The report says: “The FCA’s complaints handling are likely to have a disproportionate impact upon small firms and individual consumers, who will be more vulnerable. This makes it particularly important that the FCA is appropriately sensitive to the problems faced by small businesses and consumers who are not sophisticated.”

The FCA says lessons learned from complaints “can be a powerful tool to understand what went wrong and how we can change for the better”.

It says: “The board recognises that in a number of cases as outlined in the commissioner’s report, our handing of those complaints could have been better. We understand that there is still more we can do and so we will continue to focus on enhancing our approach to dealing with complaints and the service we provide to complainants.”

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Townsend did praise the regulator’s clean-up of its backlog of work, which was noted in last year’s report as a major concern for processing delays.


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There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Lessons learned, feedback taken on board, we’ll do better in the future, blah, blah, blah. Sorry guys, heard it all before a dozen times but nothing ever changes. Don’t believe you.

  2. To be fair I don’t think the FCA are overly defensive !! and the commissioner is quite wrong to suggest they are …

    The FCA are a “do as we say not as we do” public servant !
    When one (the FCA) is unaccountable to all who may suggest otherwise or indeed challenge they don’t need to be defensive

    I fear Mr Townsend may be barking up the wrong tree as he should be well aware of the term, “absolute power corrupts absolutely” he needs to look no further than what they pay themselves and what bonuses they award each other …unchallenged or unchecked by any exterior source…and “budget” don’t make me laugh, they do not know the word budget even exists, why would they ? when they live in a world that takes what they need from and industry, knowing full well its charged down to the end user ….. “the consumer” all the time behind the painted smile of “we are the consumer champion”

  3. I believe the problem stems from the belief that those who work within the regulator are always right. This comes quite naturally when you are omnipotent. Perhaps it is this omnipotence that is the root cause.

  4. Amazing! The very body that makes organisations jump through hoops to the nth degree to deliver just this for customers, cannot deliver it themselves. Can I be a regulator of the regulator please?

  5. James Robertson 24th July 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Julian. Quite agree. Me neither. The same phrases, trotted-out from the same worn-out book of excuses all these organisations use when criticised. To fully quote Michael Gove:

    “I think that the people of this country have had enough of experts with organisations from acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong…”

    And I am no Brexiter

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