Woodall says banks’ complaint-handling process is not working

The Financial Conduct Authority plans to carry out a review of complaint handling in banks and building societies, placing greater onus on the role of senior management.

In a speech at a Building Societies Association event last week, FCA director of mortgages and consumer lending Linda Woodall said the regulator will undertake a review of complaint handling and management in major financial institutions.

Woodall said: “The amount of complaints that go to the Ombudsman suggests that something isn’t working in the way in which firms manage and investigate customers’ complaints.

“So…we are going to undertake a thematic review of complaint handling and management in major firms, including building societies.

“The thematic review will identify why complaint handling is not working well for some consumers and address any poor practice within firms.”

Woodall said the thematic review will be conducted in two phases. First, the FCA will consider how firms identify, record and report complaints. This will be completed by the end of 2013. Secondly, the FCA will consider firms’ approach to redress and analysis of the “root cause” of complaints, which will being in 2014.

The regulator expects to publish recommendations on the back of the review in Q2 2014.

Woodall added: “We are hopeful that this will lead to a reduction in the number of customers requiring the services of the ombudsman to obtain the appropriate redress.”

Seaprately, the FCA last week said it recognised the way the FSA collected data from firms was poor and has promised it will address the “data and information legacy it inherited”.

The regulator has published a “data strategy” paper today on how it will manage and use the information it collects from firms, admitting the previous regulator did not always request data from firms in a “clear and effective way”.

It says: “We have listened to the firms we regulate, who told us there are a number of failings, including: too many requests for data and information without a clear information about why it was needed; unreasonable timescales, resulting in firms needing to divert resources to meet our requests; and a failure to communicate what the data and information was used for, leaving firms questioning if it was used at all.”