As FCA complaints numbers decrease, Charter UK says banks will still have work to do to identify and correct sources of customer dissatisfaction.
The latest Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) half yearly complaints figures point to an improving picture with overall consumer complaints falling by 5 per cent between 1 January - 30 January 2014. However, Paul Clark, CEO of Charter UK, points out that the figures are even more encouraging once you remove PPI – which still remains the most complained about financial product.
"The fact that consumer complaints have dropped by 5 per cent is great news for the financial services sector, but it's important to note that PPI complaints still account for more than half of all financial complaints," he says.
"As a result, PPI is continuing to skew the numbers and therefore obscuring the figures that will really matter in the long term – the 'business as usual' complaints. If you remove the complaints around the mis-selling of PPI, complaints related to general admin and customer service fell by 0.8 per cent, which is undoubtedly a move in the right direction.
"However, if you look at banking in isolation, whilst admin and customer service complaints fell by almost 3 per cent, which proves that many banks have been working hard to implement effective systems for the management and understanding of complaints, the fact that overall current account complaints rose by 15 per cent – the second consecutive rise – is evidence that some financial institutions can do more to identify the sources of customer dissatisfaction and correct them.
However Mr Clark believes that whilst we are seeing a generally improving picture with complaints –the sector could see complaints volumes rise as the 50,000 consumer credit firms now under the FCA regulation struggle to meet strict complaint regulation and TCF principles.
"A real concern, therefore, is whether the consumer credit sector will impact negatively on the improvements being made in this sector," he said. "Under the FCA, these firms are now required to evidence that they are treating customers fairly (TCF) and also taking a forensic approach to the way in which they capture and respond to complaints; that is a radical departure from what they were expected to do under the previous OFT regime.
"As such, I question the preparedness of consumer credit firms to meet these requirements – and wonder whether we will see complaint figures start to rise as these firms struggle to meet the FCA's expectations and strict conduct rules."