Both the FSA and the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) are committed to increasing transparency as a means of achieving better consumer outcomes. The FSA has for the first time made available aggregated complaints data, for the period 2006 to 2008, compiled from data it receives from firms. The FOS has gone a step further by publishing firm-specific complaints data, covering the period January to June 2009.

The FSA's policy on the publication of business-specific complaints data is, however, still under consultation. The FSA's consultation paper "Transparency as a Regulatory Tool and Publication of Complaints Data including Feedback to DP08/03" (CP09/21) sets out its proposals to increase transparency in the way firms handle complaints. It envisages that firms will be required to publish details of the number of complaints made in respect of the relevant products and services, and how quickly complaints are resolved.

The consultation period concludes on 30 October 2009. If the FSA's proposals are implemented, firms will be required to publish complaints data from July 2010.

Key Points

  • The FSA proposes that, from 1 July 2010, firms receiving 500 or more complaints in the relevant six-month period will be required to publish data relating to complaints made against it every six months.
  • The data will be classified into the same five product/services groupings that the FOS uses for publishing firm-specific complaints data.
  • The FSA's scheme will not include UK branches of financial businesses passporting into the UK from elsewhere in the EEA. The FOS' publication scheme does include EEA branches operating in the UK.
  • The European Commission has also proposed developing a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints across the EU. However, the proposed analysis criteria differ from the groupings proposed by the FSA (and used by the FOS). Firms may feel that it would make more sense for the UK's proposals to be aligned to those of the EU and if so, might consider responding to the EU consultation, which closes on 5 October, as well as raising this issue in commenting on CP09/21.

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