Comment: Complaints – is there a better way?

Bob Young Fleet 2014

Given that only 27 per cent of mortgage complaints made in H2 2016 were upheld, one wonders if we have the right system

The Financial Ombudsman Service’s complaints data for the second half of 2016 shows a pleasing fall in the number received in the mortgages and home finance category.

Admittedly, complaint levels dropped across the board; however, 1,400 fewer than received in the same period in 2015 is good progress.

It is interesting to note the ebb and flow of complaints that make their way to the ombudsman. What I believe unites most financial services practitioners is the often arbitrary nature of complaints received, especially when compared to the number upheld.

I am not denying the right of anyone to be able to complain – or indeed the importance of the FOS. However, given that only 27 per cent of mortgage complaints made in H2 2016 were upheld, one cannot help wonder if we have the right system.

Add in the issues recently raised by the increase in levies for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and one can understand the frustration engendered by the current system. Why should firms have to pay for the wrongdoings of a tiny minority of their peer group? One has to wonder if there is a better way of doing these things.

On a positive front, the drop in received complaints is a good sign of the way we conduct business, the way we treat our customers and, perhaps, the way we deal with initial complaints at source.

In my professional life, we have always taken complaints very seriously, with all directors working through a case to deliberate on its merits and check whether we were in the wrong. After all, it is often through complaints that you can learn about your business and rectify any issues you may not have been aware of.

Indeed, while the trend is positive, we should not be afraid of complaints. No one wants them – but sometimes they enable you to get better at what you do.

Bob Young is chief executive of Fleet Mortgages