The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has recently published its second set of consumer complaints data relating to individual financial businesses (which includes insurance companies, banks and investment firms) for the six-month period from 1 July to 31 December 2009. Please click here to review the complaints data.

FOS announced its intention to publish complaints data in March 2009, and the first set was published in September 2009. Publication of the complaints data is intended to increase transparency in the industry and to encourage firms to:

  • benchmark their standards of complaints-handling against other firms;
  • learn from businesses who are handling complaints better; and
  • reduce the number of unresolved complaints referred to FOS.

The complaints data is presented in two tables which show for the period:

1. The number of new complaints received by FOS from consumers dissatisfied with a financial business's response to their complaint; and

2. The percentage of resolved complaints upheld by FOS in favour of the consumer. During the period, the number of new complaints received by the FOS increased by 18% compared to the first half of 2009.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) published a short news release in response to the FOS's publication of the data. Please click here to view the news release. The ABI criticised the methodology behind the complaints data and has stated that the data need to be put into context in a way that gives meaningful information to consumers and which allows consumers to make informed choices. Similar criticisms were made by the ABI in September 2009 when the first set of complaints data was published. The ABI says that, currently, the complaints data do not provide enough information to allow consumers to compare the performance of different firms for specific products (such as home insurance) or to take account of the amount of business transacted by each firm.