FCA to split advice and guidance complaints data


The FCA will divide complaints data into separate figures for unclear advice and guidance under new rules announced today.

Previously, the regulator grouped the figures together under a heading of “misleading advice/guidance”, “arranging” and “inappropriate sales technique”.

The changes come after a consultation on new complaints rules in which respondents said the categories for advice and guidance were too similar.

The FCA will also require firms to report all complaints, rather than just those which take longer than a day to resolve.

The regulator will then publish this data from September next year.

FCA director of competition and strategy Christopher Woolard says:“Our rules will help deliver the quicker, easier and fairer resolution to complaints that consumers want.

“Getting this right is also vital for firms. A properly resolved complaint can keep a customer happy, and protect the firm’s reputation. But, more than that, effective complaints handling systems can act as an early warning system for firms.”

The complaint rules will also require firms to tell complainants about their right to refer to the Financial Ombudsman Service, despite protests from the industry.

The rules, which can be accessed here, come in spite of complaints over the requirement to issue a “summary resolution communication” for complaints resolved within three business days.

The FCA says: “Many focused on the proportionality of the requirements, concerns about the impact on consumer behaviour and a possible increase in the number of complaints referred to the ombudsman service.

“While we recognise these concerns, the arguments against the proposal have not changed our minds. We continue to believe it is an important way to ensure the complaints process is transparent, and accords with what consumers have told us they value.”

In addition, the new rules allow firms three days to resolve complaints informally, extended from a current one day target, which the FCA says will allow for easier resolution of greater numbers of complaints.

However, the FCA has delayed the introduction of limits on what financial services firms can charge customers for calling complaint lines, after noting concerns regarding how quickly firms would be forced to implement the changes.

Under the new rules, which will be implemented in October, firms will only be allowed to charge customers who complain the same as a local rate call.