FOS reveals most complained about advice firms


Embattled network Sesame has once again topped the list of most complained about adviser businesses, the latest Financial Services Ombudsman data shows.

In the six months to July, there were 172 complaints relating to Sesame – a 13 per cent fall on the same period last year when there were 197 new cases.

Openwork is next, followed by Interactive Investor, Hargreaves Lansdown and national advice firm Positive Solutions.

St. James’s Place would also make the top five – with 70 complaints in the first half of the year – but the FOS has changed how it categorises the firm as it is not solely an advice business. Likewise, complaints are across the entire business, including non-advised customers.

See table below for full stats.

Across all firms that fall under the ombudsman’s remit the average rate of FOS decisions in favour of consumers was 57 per cent, ranging between 5 to 94 per cent across individual businesses.

The FOS only publishes data where it has received at least 30 new complaints and resolved at least 30 complaints over a six month period. There were 222 businesses featured in the list, of which 22 are included for the first time.

There was an 8 per cent rise in new cases year-on-year, from 161,649 in the first half of 2014 to 173,994 this year. Over half (55 per cent) were in relation to payment protection insurance, although this has fallen 10 per cent compared to previous period.

But complaints about other products increased by 45 per cent from 54,862 to 79,550. The FOS says this is mainly due to a rise in complaints about packaged bank accounts brought by claims management companies.

Bank of Scotland topped the overall list of new complaints, with 20,288, followed by Barclays (20,021), Lloyds (19,818), HSBC (12,792) and NatWest (11,549).

Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman says: “It’s been seven years since the ombudsman first began to publish data about individual financial businesses. This has coincided with a period of volatility and challenge for much of the financial services sector – and this is still reflected in the data we publish today.

She adds: “Nobody wants “another PPI”. This is why we’re working closely with businesses, claims companies and their regulators, to make sure PPI is sorted as fairly and as quickly as possible for everyone involved – and that lessons are learned to prevent anything like this happening again. If we can all achieve this, then the next seven years should be a different story”.

Most complained about adviser businesses - H1 2015