FOS complaints against IFAs continue to fall

The number of complaints against IFAs referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service has fallen from 3,092 to 2,643 for the 2011/2012 financial year.

IFAs now represent just 1 per cent of all FOS complaints.

The FOS says the drop reflects the “steady decline” in the number of investments and pensions complaints.

The FOS published its latest figures on complaints trends this morning as part of its annual review.

It marks a continued fall in the number of IFA complaints referred to the FOS. IFA complaints fell to 3,092 last year from 3,260 in 2009/10. IFAs accounted for 1.5 per cent of all FOS complaints in 2010/11 and 2 per cent of all cases in 2009/10.

The proportion of upheld complaints against IFAs has remained steady at 54 per cent.

Complaints about banks as a proportion have stayed the same at 65.5 per cent of cases, due to the continued high volume of payment protection insurance complaints.

PPI accounted for 60 per cent of all new cases during 2011/12, equivalent to 157,716 complaints.

FOS chief executive Natalie Ceeney (pictured) says: “This year has been a struggle for many consumers, who have found themselves burdened by debt, besieged by claims companies and bewildered by the complexity of financial services This has made our work at the ombudsman service more challenging – but more crucial – than ever before.

“I believe there is something we can all learn from what we have seen this year – to help prevent future problems and complaints. What has gone wrong in the past does not need to happen again – as long as we remember that “complaints” are about real people, not numbers, and that “complaints handling” is about customer service, not box ticking.”

The number of investment complaints has fallen 13 per cent from 3,784 in 2011 to 3,308 in 2012, as fewer people complained in rising market conditions.

However the FOS says it continues to see “increasingly entrenched and fiercely contested” disputes about investment products, with a “legalistic approach to complaints handling” adopted by some firms which is meaning cases are taking longer to resolve.

Pensions complaints have jumped 28 per cent from 2,706 to 3,454. Disputes about pensions often involved those in or close to retirement. The FOS says it is continuing to see complaints where consumers have taken out alternative pension arrangements to combat low annuity rates, but ended up taking on higher investment risk as a result.

Stockbroking and portfolio management complaints dropped 19 per cent from 2,267 to 1,842, though the FOS says it is seeing more complaints about unregulated collective investment schemes.

Mortgage complaints have increased by 35 per cent from 7,067 to 9,537, with administrative errors the largest area of complaint. There were also a number of complaints about arrears handling by lenders, particularly arrears charges.

The FOS also saw more complaints about customers who wanting to take out a new mortgage where they had difficulty meeting the loan-to-values required.


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There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. That’s partly because the FSA circumvent due process and get the FSCS to encourage clients to complain directly to them!!

  2. Tremendous figures for IFA’s, pity the FSA seemed determined to wipe them out.

  3. Soren Lorensons 22nd May 2012 at 9:05 am

    It would be good to see these stats with PPI taken out. I think we would all agree that PPI is a blip and makes the banks look even worse than they are.

    I suspect the figures for IFAs without PPI would be higher than 1% but still impressive.

  4. @8:51 am – on a positive front, when the FSA finally ‘wipe out’ IFAs, complaints will drop by a further 1%.

  5. Anon@9.11 – Thanks for the positive spin, I feel better already !

  6. Colin Linscott 22nd May 2012 at 9:39 am

    Which means that that IFA’s have still had to pay the FOS for the 46% they win and the failed complainant gets away scot free. This system is grossly unfair and a slap in the face for natural justice.

  7. David Parkinson 22nd May 2012 at 9:55 am

    Just as well the FSA are doing their best to re address this balance with Arch Cru!!!! Either way IFA’s will still get another Levy bill as that’s all we are good for!

  8. Regarding FSCS, if we were organised and brave we would say a collective “NO, STOP”.

  9. Exasperated Me 22nd May 2012 at 12:00 pm

    “legalistic approach to complaints handling”

    What other approach is there?

    Coin tossing?

    Pin sticking?

    Decisions based upon:

    “You will be getting a reputation”?

    “I can do whatever I like coz I’m a regulator”?

  10. Could the legalistic approach be due to the fact that record keeping is now very much more robust than before and IFA’s actually defend their positions against the ambulance chasing/ complaint grovelling society which attack them.

    It would also be interesting to compare the amount of complaints which arise from the National IFA community versus the rest!

  11. I would like to see the complaint figures for the FSA & FSCS
    And wonder if they recognise us as real people and not faceless numbers.

    Sorry forgot we are just cash cows, with our rumps well and trully branded.

  12. Is Natalie Ceeney suggesting that firms should not take a ‘legalistic approach’? It is the only protection firms have against a regulator which makes it up as it goes along or uses that brilliant tool of hindsight. Also tends to change it’s interpretation as often as the weather.
    I suppose with the FSA telling the TSC to take a running jump it is unsurprising that it has little time for legal niceties.

  13. “However the FOS says it continues to see “increasingly entrenched and fiercely contested” disputes about investment products, with a “legalistic approach to complaints handling” adopted by some firms which is meaning cases are taking longer to resolve”
    Yes Natalie, people usually do this when they are falsley accused, as happens with many FOS cases,. It is caled human nature.
    I suppose FOS would be happier if we all just rolled over and paid up regardless. That way FOS would look like a succesfull organisation.

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