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Link customer complaints and bonuses, says Which?

Which? has called for financial institutions to link senior managers’ bonuses to the number of complaints against their company.

Chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith made the call while giving evidence to the joint committee on the draft Financial Services Bill last week.

He said: “I would like to see all financial institutions do what some already have done, namely that bonuses of senior management contain an element for reducing customer complaints – not just the number being passed to the Financial Ombudsman Service but actually driving down the number of complaints.”

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy called for the FCA to have some oversight of consumer redress. She said: “The FCA needs an objective on consumer redress so it is part of that conduct regulation rather than being left up to the companies themselves.”

Consumer complaints must currently first be put to the company involved before consumers can refer it to the FOS.

Martin Lewis 150x125

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis told the committee that many companies use this two-stage process to put people off approaching the ombudsman.

FOS chief executive Natalie Ceeney agreed.

Lewis said firms send “beautifully drafted” letters, which meet requirements to inform customers about the ombudsman service but leave them no hope of success.

He added: “Firms deliberately reject cases they know the ombudsman will uphold and only 10 per cent then approach the ombudsman.”

Lewis told the committee if more than 50 per cent of complaints to the ombudsman over one issue are upheld, it should automatically become a super-complaint, with the FCA required to respond to the problem within six months.

He said: “Year after year we see systemic misselling where the FOS is upholding complaints in more than 50 per cent of cases and nothing is done about it.”

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