25Oct

Perhaps there are finally some signs that the payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal has peaked. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s complaints data shows that around 500,000 fewer complaints were received against regulated firms in the first six months of 2013 than in the second half of 2012. The total for the period January to June was 2.9 million. 1,786,626 of the complaints related to PPI – some 61% of the total.

Barclays Bank was the institution receiving the most complaints, with 370,733, although more than this was received in total by the various institutions of Lloyds Banking Group. Lloyds Bank received 253,735 complaints and Bank of Scotland 222,249, putting them second and fourth respectively in the table. MBNA was in third place.

51% of the complaints in the first six months of 2012 were upheld by the relevant firm. Most high street banks had an uphold rate of between 60% and 70%, although Bank of Scotland and Co-operative Bank had a rate of below 50%.

A total of £2.55 billion in customer redress was paid during the six month period.

92% of complaints were resolved within the eight week period in which the FCA normally expects firms to resolve complaints. Some firms have struggled in recent years to meet this eight week target given their backlog of PPI complaints. Many smaller firms closed 100% of their complaints within this period, and the worst high-street bank in this respect was Santander at 83% (excluding Northern Bank which does not operate in England, Wales & Scotland).

Martin Wheatley the FCA’s chief executive, said: “We expect firms to put their customers at the heart of their business – an important part of this is the way they handle customer complaints. Publishing complaints data is a powerful tool that helps encourage competition between firms to improve their service to customers; and help consumers assess their relationships with banks and other providers.”

The reduced number of complaints being received by FCA regulated firms may eventually be reflected in the figures of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the independent body that adjudicates on complaints where the customer does not agree with the firm’s assessment. For now, however, the FOS figures show that they received 143,177 complaints in their second quarter, which ran from July to September 2013. This represents a 39% increase on the equivalent period in 2012. 115,247 of the complaints – 81% of the total – concerned PPI.

In its financial year of April 2012 to March 2013, the FOS received just over 500,000 complaints about all financial products. However, in the two quarters of the 2013/14 year to date, 247,399 complaints have been received by the FOS about PPI alone, raising the prospect that the current financial year could see around 500,000 complaints solely about PPI.