An avalanche of bank complaints
The latest complaints figures from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) published today make for interesting reading.
Adviser firms experienced a big fall in the total number of complaints for the second half of 2009. They fell from 17,186 in the first half to under 14,000 in the second half.
Banks and building societies were a very different story. The total number of complaints made to banks increased from 1,075,400 to 2,225,458.
This massive increase in bank complaints has been caused, in part, by a backlog of complaints to banks about unfair overdraft charges. These complaints are now being processed after the Supreme Court ruling last November.
Looking at how many of these complaints to both types of institution were upheld, adviser firms upheld 31% of complaints (down from 35% in the first half) and banks upheld 47% (compared to 36% in the first half).
Statistics like this can hide a multitude of sins, although consumers of retail financial services should take notice of the much greater likelihood of receiving unsatisfactory advice and service when dealing with a bank rather than an independent financial adviser.
All organisations regulated by the FSA are subject to strict rules when it comes to handling complaints. When dealing with a regulated adviser, you should have the confidence that any advice provided is suitable for you and that, if you have cause to complain, any complaint is treated fairly and promptly.