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FOS reveals the most complained about advice firms

Caroline Wayman FOS

Sesame received the most Financial Ombudsman Service complaints between January and June with nearly a quarter of its 160 complaints upheld.

The FOS released its six-monthly complaints data today, including the five advice firms that received the most complaints.

Sesame topped the list and also saw an increase in the number of complaints from the previous six-month period when 116 complaints were filed against the company and 23 per cent were upheld.

Openwork was the second most complained about advice firm between January and June, but it received half the number of complaints as Sesame in the period. Of the 80 complaints made about Openwork 24 per cent were upheld.

St James’s Place was third with 58 complaints, of which 24 per cent were upheld, followed by Positive Solutions which had 30 per cent of its 34 complaints upheld.

Hargreaves Lansdown was fifth on the list with 33 complaints and an uphold rate of 13 per cent.

The FOS took on 169,132 new cases in the first half of 2016 – an increase of 3 per cent on the previous six-month period.

The average uphold rate between January and June was 48 per cent, ranging from 3 per cent to 92 per cent across the individual businesses.

Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Barclays were the top three most complained about businesses overall.

Lloyds received 22,241 complaints, of which 70 per cent were upheld, Bank of Scotland 22,090 complaints, of which 34 per cent were upheld, and Barclays 18,603 complaints, with 47 per cent upheld.

HSBC and NatWest were also in the top five most complained about business with 11,082 and 8,027 complaints respectively.

Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman says: “The data we have published about complaints over the last decade or so helps to illustrate a challenging and volatile period for financial businesses. But the current signs are that complaints are now broadly levelling off and moving onto a more even keel.

“Lots of factors can influence the complaints we see, from more people knowing about their rights when things go wrong to external factors like volatility in the stockmarket or extreme weather conditions. That’s why I believe it’s important that we continue to share our insights into complaints to help businesses to avoid the mistakes of the past.”



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There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. It stands to reason that bigger companies are likely have more complaints. Perhaps data like this would be more helpful if it were presented as complaints per adviser?

    That would show which companies make least effort to give good advice – and the FCA should focus their policing on those companies.

    • Plus, the percentage upheld tells us a lot more about the culture in those firms – a high % would seem to indicate they try to get a way with rejecting complaints in the hope that the customer accepts the firm’s findings and doesn’t take it further.

    • High complaints levied at one large group, directs sales force or network display an organizational bias and compliance failure representing a far higher risk to a far higher number of consumers i.e. it was the direct sales forces of the 80’s and 90’s that spearheaded pension mis-selling.

  2. Martin
    Your comment makes absolute sense. Therefore, it will never happen.

  3. Martin is of course correct.

    Of the many thousands of transactions Sesame and its predecessors have been responsible for over the last 28 years, only 160 gave rise to a complaint that an ombudsman had to look at – and only 37 of those were upheld.

  4. It would also be interesting to know how many of these complaints are generated via CMC’s ?

    Around a 1/4 (for IFA’s) are upheld does this then mean 3/4 of them are a result of fishing ?

    Its a lot of wasted time and expense for FOS and possibly why there is a strong argument for the complainant to pay a fee ? refunded if upheld……..

    Seems a lot of running around by both FOS and the companies or IFA involved !

  5. Adding my name to the list of ‘what a good idea Martin’ comments

    FOS – if you read this, what about it eh? Complaint per R.I.?
    Well why wouldn’t you?

  6. Your statements seem to be confusing you have stated that Lloyds had 22,241 complaints of which 70% upheld . If this was the case the FOS would have gone nuts. Can anyone advise if this figure is just what FOS upheld or overall including servicing issues

  7. Why do financial journalist insist on reporting FOS compliant figures this way? Why could the headline not have read ‘IFA industry accounts for less than 0.1% of complaints to FOS for first 6 months’ Instead they lead with headline that Sesame had 160 complaints. Out of a total of 169,132 I think our industry should be congratulated!

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