Martin Wheatley: Banks’ complaints handling is ‘outrageous’ and ‘unacceptable’

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley has launched a blistering attack on banks’ “outrageous” and “unacceptable” complaints handling as he revealed two more banks have been referred to enforcement over the way they deal with complaints.

Martin Wheatley
Wheatley attacks banks in front of MPs this morning

Data published by the Financial Ombudsman Service last week revealed the high level of upheld complaints at several banks in the first half of the year, including Lloyds TSB with 86 per cent of complaints upheld against it and Bank of Scotland with 80 per cent. 

Conservative MP and Treasury select committee member David Ruffley pointed out the FOS has been upholding more than 90 per cent of payment protection insurance claims.

Speaking at the Treasury select committee today, Wheatley said the Fos uphold rates are a problem that needs addressing.

Wheatley said: “It is absolutely not acceptable that such a number of rejected complaints by the banks are subsequently found against the banks. It is outrageous those sort of figures are still the case.

“We have been working very hard to look at bank complaint handling. We have taken enforcement action and will take more enforcement action and we will continue to pressure how banks handle complaints through our ongoing supervision and theme work. I share your concern and those figures are not good for an industry.

“We have got two large investigations underway and we have completed two where we have quite strong fines.”

In January the Co-operative Bank was fined £113,000 over failing to treat customers fairly over PPI payouts while in February Lloyds Banking Group was fined £4.3m over delays in paying PPI claims.

Last week the FCA launched a thematic review into complaint handling at major firms including banks and building societies after claiming it ”isn’t working”. It will publish its recommedations from the review in Q2 2014.