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IFA criticises complaint deadline after £42k fine

Kilminster Financial Management chairman Malcolm Kilminster has hit out at the four-week deadline for firms to resolve complaints after it was fined £42,000 by the FSA this week, partly for late payments.

Kilminster claims that the deadline set by the Financial Ombudsman Service for companies to indicate how they will settle compensation cases could lead firms to admit culpability too early.

However, he says the firm has doubled its investment in compliance since last year.

Kilminster was fined for management and complaint handling failings from January 1, 2004 to August 23, 2006. The fine was reduced from £60,000 for early settlement.

The FSA says the firm did not treat customers fairly, failed to handle complaints in good time and failed to monitor staff sufficiently or keep appropriate training and competence records.

It also failed to implement appropriate procedures to co-operate with the FOS regarding late award payments. It has now complied with both awards and paid both complainants.

Kilminster says: “I think it is naive to insist on settling complaints in this time period. If you try to do so without the full facts, you might end up admitting culpability where you were not culpable. We were not found to have deliberately set out to do any damage. We are not bad people.”

FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole says: “Kilminster did not implement systems to ensure customers were treated fairly and we found a number of failings which contributed to poor quality service.”

The Bristol-based firm, with 30 advisers, has built a single, centralised system for recording complaints, employed a specialist consultant focusing on complaint handling and had a full audit of its selling practices through compliance firm SimplyBiz.

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