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Eight-week deadline to handle complaints

Firms will have eight weeks to investigate and answer complaints,

according to new draft regulations set out by the FSA.

It is one of a range of rules governing complaints hand-ling by banks,

building societies, investment houses and insurance companies as well as

IFAs.

The rules come after a consultation on the proposals last autumn.

The FSA says the plans were given widespread support and come ahead of the

new integrated ombudsman service.

Director of consumer relations Christine Farnish says: “The recent

consultation has shown widespread support for the proposals among consumer

groups and across the financial services industry.

“Both consumers and firms themselves benefit from effective complaints

handling arrangements.

“Consumers get their problems resolved quickly and effectively and firms

rec-eive useful consumer feedback and achieve reputat-ional and commercial

benefits from enhanced consumer confidence.”

An ABI spokesman says: “We are disappointed that our proposal that small

businesses be omitted has been ignored. Previous research has shown that

there is no demand from this sector.”

Interested parties have until August 31 to respond to the new draft

regulations.

All IFA-authorised firms will need to:

Publish complaints procedures and make them available to consumers.

Investigate claims within a maximum of eight weeks.

Keep records of all complaints for a minimum of six years.

Submit records to the FSA on the number and types of complaints and the

length of time taken to resolve them.

Inform consumers who remain dissatisfied at the end of the complaints

procedure of the new ombudsman service.

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