Last month, the FCA published its thematic review into complaint handling involving 15 major retail firms and five trade bodies. The FCA has considered the findings of the review and is now consulting on a number of policy proposals in CP14/30 Improving complaints handling. The proposed changes to the complaints rules affect all FCA-regulated firms including insurers and intermediaries.

CP14/30 contains three policy proposals which are intended to improve the way complaints are identified, recorded and handled. The FCA is proposing to:

  • Extend the time period for dealing with a complaint less formally, to increase the efficiency and speed with which complaints are resolved. Firms are currently required to send a ‘final response’ letter to complainants by the end of the next business day following receipt of the complaint. The FCA proposes extending this deadline to the end of three business days which, it says, will benefit consumers by allowing firms longer to deal with less serious complaints informally without having to escalate them to a formal complaints process.
  • Require firms to send a written communication to all consumers whose complaints are handled by the end of the three business-day period, explaining that they have the right to refer a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if they are not satisfied. The FCA proposes to amend its rules to allow consumers to refer their complaint immediately after receiving a response from the firm, rather than having to wait eight weeks to refer a complaint to the FOS as is currently the case.
  • Ensure firms report and publish all complaints to the FCA – not just those complaints resolved after the close of the next business day, as at present.

The regulator is also proposing measures to increase transparency around complaints data including a new ‘complaints return’ that firms are required to submit twice a year. The key elements of the FCA’s proposal are:

  • More focus on information that may be useful to consumers, as well as information that is useful for the FCA’s functions.
  • A revised complaints return, with a new list of categories of complaint, set against product or service groupings.
  • New metrics added to the complaints return relating to the number of sales, policies or accounts, depending on the product/service grouping. The FCA’s complaints publications will include some contextualisation-based information.
  • To record and publish data on how quickly complaints are dealt with.
  • A simplified complaints return for firms with fewer than 500 complaints.

The consultation closes on March 13, 2015.

For further information:

FCA consults on complaints handling improvements