New aggregate data from the FSA shows a huge level of complaints received by banks in contrast to the falling number of complaints against IFAs.
The data shows that while overall complaints to regulated firms have risen 5.7 per cent, complaints to advice firms have fallen 63 per cent.
Complaints made to all firms over misleading advice have dropped from 423,549 in the first half of 2006 to 174,916 in the second half of 2008.
On average between 2006 and 2008 advisers took longer than eight weeks to resolve 26 per cent of complaints received, while for banks it was just 12 per cent.
Overall 10 per cent of complaints took longer than eight weeks to resolve, with 40 per cent of all complaints decided in favour of the customer.
The data covers the volume of complaints firms have received, by product type and cause of the complaint and how firms have handled them.
The FSA will publish aggregate data covering the first half of 2009 in October, with updates published every six months.
FSA director of retail policy and conduct risk Dan Waters says: “Transparency is an important regulatory tool. Publishing this information will mean that consumers and firms can now see how many complaints the industry receives and how it deals with them. This is stage one of our drive to say more about how the industry handles complaints and builds on our recent proposals, currently out for consultation, about the publication of firm-specific data.
“We expect firms to treat customers fairly by dealing with complaints promptly and efficiently. We are focusing even more attention, particularly through intensive supervision, on ensuring that firms are dealing with complaints properly.”
Which? personal finance campaigner Phil Jones says the increasing number of complaints to banks is a “poor reflection on the industry”.
He says: “Financial firms simply aren’t treating consumers well enough and things must change if the industry is to rebuild its reputation.
“Consumers need more information about which firms are being complained about and why, so they can make more informed choices when shopping around for financial products.”
City law firm CMS Cameron McKenna partner Simon Morris has labelled the data “alarming regulatory disinformation”.
He says: “Presenting crude statistics about complaints that firms receive, let alone uphold, provides no useful information to help investors make important decisions. Instead, it creates an alarming and inaccurate impression that firms are not to be trusted.
“This is the last message to convey at a time of general ecomonic distress when customers need savings and insurance cover more than ever. It is irresponsible for the FSA to be undermining consumer confidence in such an insidious manner.”