FSA sets out FCA complaint handling procedures

The FSA has set out the final rules for the Financial Conduct Authority’s complaint handling procedure for firms and individuals.

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As proposed in November, the new rules will see two distinct stages to investigations, similar to the current FSA complaints scheme. Stage one involves an investigation by the regulator and stage two will be carried out by the complaints commissioner.

There will be no charge to use the scheme at any stage and the regulator will aim to complete investigations within four weeks of receiving a complaint or write to all complainants to set out a timetable.

The regulator will have no obligation to deal with a complaint if it can be dealt with in another way, such as by the Upper Tribunal or in court, or if it amounts to no more than dissatisfaction with regulator policy.

The process will handle complaints against the Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority, but not the Money Advice Service, Financial Services Compensation Scheme or Financial Ombudsman Service, which have their own procedures.

At the FSCS a complaints officer is assigned to each complaint which aims to be dealt with within 20 working days or write to provide a timetable. Each complaint can be reviewed by the independent investigator who can not overturn complaints but will present to the FSCS board and require a response to the complainant.

The FOS has an independent assessor who judges the level of service provided but will make no judgement over ombudsman decisions. The MAS promises to reply to complaints within 20 days and produces regular reports from its board summarising complaints.

Sir Anthony Holland is set to remain as complaints commissioner until April 2014 to oversee the transition.

The policy document, published today, outlines FSA responses to questions arising from the consultation process.

Respondents had a range of issues with the new regime such as the exclusion of the FSCS, the removal of fast-track complaints and the seniority of FSA staff handling the complaint.

There were also responses that complained about how the FCA will pay compensation when a complaint is found against it, with some suggesting it should come from fine money.

Concerns were also highlighted about the budget of the complaints commissioner under the new regime and whether it could be too small.

The FSA says it rejected all responses and kept its rules the same.