On 18 April, the FCA published its latest complaints figures, covering the second half of 2018.

The data shows that complaints for regulated firms decreased by 5% in the second half of last year, falling from 4.13m to 3.91m. This is the first fall in the number of complaints since firms were required to change the way they report complaints, in 2016.

What are the headlines?

  • 3,181 firms reported receiving one or more complaints in the second half of 2018
  • 231 of those firms reported 500 or more complaints, and accounted for almost 98% of all the complaints received
  • PPI remains the most-complained about product, making up 40% of all complaints, although it did see a decrease of 8%, with complaints down from 1.72m in the first half of 2018 to 1.58 in the second
  • Excluding PPI, complaints overall decreased from 2.41m to 2.33m during 2018.
  • Current accounts, the second most-complained about product, saw complaints decrease by 13%
  • Credit cards, on the other hand, the third most-complained about product, saw an increase of 10%

More complaints are being closed more quickly; the proportion of complaints closed by firms within three days rose slightly from 35% in the first half of 2018 to 37% in the second half.

95% were closed within 8 weeks (up from 92% in the first half of the year). 97% of PPI complaints were closed within 8 weeks, up from 89%.

A change in direction for complaints

The H2 2018 stats show a sea-change from the H1 2018 ones, which saw a huge upsurge in financial services complaints and a record level of complaints overall.

The drop is due to a decrease of 86,501 complaints about current accounts and a decrease of 50,802 about packaged accounts between H1 and H2 2018.

The previous period’s current account complaints were impacted by disruption caused by TSB’s move to a new IT platform – an issue that accounted for half of the increase in banking and credit card complaints between H2 2017 and H1 2018.

Commenting on the new data, Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s Executive Director of Strategy and Competition said:

‘It is encouraging to see that complaint figures have dropped and firms are dealing with complaints more quickly.

‘We expect firms to continue to focus on ensuring their customers are well served and that they respond quickly where consumers complain.’

A changing landscape for customer complaints

FCA regulation of the claims management industry is now in place, with claims firm obliged to promote the fact that customers can complain via free alternatives such as the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

It’s early days for this regulation (the FCA only took over regulation of claims management last month), and this may or may not increase the number of complaints firms receive.

How can you avoid customer complaints?

You can read the complete complaints data on the FCA website.

Of course, every firm will receive the occasional complaint. But to try and reduce your risk of appearing on the regulator’s list, taking some simple steps will help:

  • Customer satisfaction means meeting expectations – making fair promises and ensuring your products and services deliver on what you say they will. Make sure your financial promotions comply with the requirements, not just of the FCA but the ASA and CAP, who set the rules for and regulate all UK advertising.
  • Check that your advice and sales processes meet regulatory requirements. Manage the risks inherent in your social media strategy to ensure a compliant approach to Twitter, Linkedin and any other social media platforms you use.
  • Keep on top of existing regulations, as well as any new ones coming into force.
  • Explore ways that innovation and regulatory technology can improve your regulatory compliance.
  • Make sure your client service matches up to your promises.

Make sure your financial promotions meet the grade

Producing fair, clear and compliant financial promotions is a key step in meeting customers’ – and the regulator’s – expectations. Our Financial Promotion Advice service will help you make sure you cover all the elements of a compliant promotion.

We offer a complete solution with a range of cost effective, regulatory compliance and marketing products and solutions that are uniquely suited to supporting firms.

Explore our full range today.

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