For the first time since the complaints reporting requirements were changed back in 2016, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reported a fall in the number of complaints being made to the firms it supervises.

There were 3,910,000 complaints in the second half of 2018, down 5% from the equivalent figure of 4,130,000 recorded in the first half of the year.

3,181 firms reported receiving one or more complaints between July and December, which is still a fairly small proportion of the firms that fall under the FCA’s jurisdiction. Only 231 firms reported 500 or more complaints, and these firms collectively were responsible for 98% of the total number of complaints.

It comes as no surprise that payment protection insurance (PPI) was again the most complained about product, accounting for around 40% of all complaints. However, the PPI complaints total fell by more than the average – the FCA data reveals that complaints about this product fell from 1,720,000 in the first half of the year to 1,580,000 in the second half – a fall of 8%. The firms that have had to deal with ‘bogus’ PPI complaints, where consumers (or their claims management companies) allege that the firm mis-sold PPI to them even though no policy existed, will have been cheered by the news that they can exclude from their complaints return any complaints where it was established that the complainant had not purchased a PPI policy from the firm. The fall in PPI numbers in part reflects this rule change.

Against the trend of falling complaint numbers, credit card complaints were 10% higher in the second half of the year and this reflects other data from the FCA and Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) which shows that complaints about many areas of consumer credit are rising rapidly. Firms that are only authorised to carry out consumer credit activities are still not included in the regulator’s official complaints statistics, as some smaller firms in this sector have not yet been asked to submit their first full annual complaints return.

The latest data also suggest firms are becoming more efficient at resolving complaints. In the second half of 2018, 37% of all complaints were closed within three working days, up from 35% in the first half of the year. The proportion closed within eight weeks rose from 92% to 95% – in normal circumstances firms should complete their investigations into a complaint within eight weeks, and if they cannot do so, they must write to the customer to explain the delay, and to give them the chance to refer the matter to the FOS. The proportion of PPI complaints closed within eight weeks rose from 89% to 97%.

PPI redress in the second half of the year was £1.99 billion, down from £2.31 billion. Total redress for all product areas was down from £2.57 billion to £2.26 billion.

Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, said:

“It is encouraging to see that complaint figures have dropped and firms are dealing with complaints more quickly.

“We expect firms to continue to focus on ensuring their customers are well served and that they respond quickly where consumers complain.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article