Financial Regulator Complaints Commissioner publishes annual report

The Financial Regulator Complaints Commissioner has published its annual report for 2022/23 reviewing how the UK financial services regulators consider complaints.

This year, 421 cases were dealt with by the Commissioner’s office, compared to 492 excluded LCF in 2021/22. The Commissioner made 185 substantive decisions on the complaints received, compared to 129 in the previous year (excluding LCF). One was about PRA, one jointly about PRA and FCA, and the rest about FCA only. 90% of cases were dealt with within 8 weeks.

The Commissioner noted a number of differences to the trends in FCA-related complaints from last year:

  1. New and significant additions to the trends were complaints about FCA customer service and about the failure of its complaint investigation;
  2. Substantial complaints about fees, fines and invoices;
  3. Emergence of complaints about market oversight;
  4. Increased complaints alleged FCA failed to oversee FOS;
  5. Continued complaints by regulated firms or individuals that FCA failed to deal with them properly;
  6. Continued whistleblower complaints; and
  7. Increased complaints referred to the Commissioner which were deferred.

In 11% of concluded cases, the Commissioner disagreed fully or partially with FCA’s decision. 62 recommendations, suggestions or criticisms were made overall, including in the cases about PRA and about PRA and FCA jointly. Most of the complainants’ dissatisfaction with FCA centred upon its oversight role of firms and the customer service received from its Complaints Teams and other departments.

Certain themes emerged across the range of complaints reviewed by the Commissioner:

  • Understanding the purpose of the Complaints Scheme;
  • Information sharing with complainants; and
  • Vulnerable complainants.

FCA’s response to the report noted that it had substantially improved its performance on standard and local area complaints against its operating service metrics, delivering a 23% increase in cases closed within 8 weeks. FCA also highlighted higher volumes of complex group complaints, and expects this trend to continue.

On sharing information, FCA accepted that it hadn’t always got information-sharing with complainants right. It notes that it updated its Protocol on how it engages with the Commissioner, and has also launched FCA-wide initiatives to improve handling of confidential information, for example an internal tool to support colleagues in decision-making around disclosure of information that is confidential under FSMA.

FCA acknowledged areas for improvement in relation to customer service, but highlighted that it has strengthened its quality assurance framework. On the Commissioners comments about delays in complaint-handling, it noted that its focus over the last 2 years has been to address the backlog of standard complaints.

Laura Wiles