Wednesday, August 21 10:48:11
The Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) William Prasifka, today published a review that noted no improvement in how banks and others handle customer complaints, which have continued to rise.
It also shows that the types of complaints are recurring each year indicating that financial services providers are not doing enough to address issues that give rise to these kinds of complaints from consumers.
Mr Prasifka said 4,700 complaints were made by consumers to the Financial Services Ombudsman between January and June this year, a 27pc increase on the same period last year.
Complaints about insurance accounted for half of all complaints received, with Payment Protection Insurance accounting for the majority of all insurance complaints.
Mortgages and accounts generate the most complaints against banks and 10pc more complaints are upheld against the banking sector compared to the insurance and investment sectors.
"The Review shows the same issues and complaint types recurring each year. Despite this Office indicating how complaints would be dealt with, the Review suggests that some Financial Institutions have not sought to learn from previous complaint experiences and Findings issued," the Ombudsman said.
"The Banking sector has not shown an improvement in its complaint handling. Mortgage complaints and general account administration are two areas in particular where the Banking sector must show improvement, particularly as this Office has issued many Findings in both areas showing how such complaints will be considered," he said.
He added that the Insurance and Investment sectors must ensure that it allows consumers to fully inform themselves of the products they are purchasing and to familiarise themselves with the conditions of their insurance.
"Although some Financial Institutions have made genuine effort to engage with their customers before complaints escalate, a large number continue to treat the FSO's Office as 'just another complaint department'. This attitude is not in the spirit of regulatory codes or in the interests of consumers. It reflects badly on the financial industry at a time when it needs to actively and genuinely work with its customers."
"In order to address this continuing trend, this Office has introduced a new approach for dealing with complaints efficiently, fairly and effectively. Before coming to the FSO, Consumers must first engage with their Financial Institution as per the Consumer Protection Code. Financial Institutions must show and document their efforts to deal with these complaints comprehensively and fairly before referring consumers to the FSO."