The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed that it has increased the time limit by which firms can handle complaints less formally, without sending a final response letter, following its consultation at the end of last year.
In a policy statement, published today (23 July) the regulator has extended the time period for dealing with a complaint from the end of the next business day after they have received the complaint to the end of three business days.
However, the City watchdog stated firms will now have to report to the FCA the number of complaints handled within this shorter timeframe and to send a summary resolution communication.
Up until now firms have not needed to report to the FCA the number of complaints they receive and resolve to the satisfaction of the complainant by the close of the next business day.
But from 30 June 2016 all firms will have to report to the FCA on the number of all complaints received, including those handled by the close of three business days following receipt of the complaint, and publicly publish this information.
In a 79-page policy statement published today (23 July), the regulator stated firms will have to send them data twice a year on all complaints made, and not just complains that have been resolved, the regulator confirmed.
At the end of last year, the regulator proposed three key changes to improve firms’ complaints handling.
The FCA’s policy paper acknowledged that for some firms there may be a “significant cost attached” to adjusting IT and recording systems, as well as training staff.
“However, we believe that the majority of these costs should reflect changes which are necessary to meet the requirements of our existing rules.
“Those rules already require firms to be able to categorise all complaints against our definition of a complaint and to record them effectively (including for the purposes of root cause analysis) and we would expect firms to already have effective training in place to ensure that staff are able achieve this – hence, we do not expect the changes to result in an incremental cost.”
The regulator is also demanding that firms send a summary resolution communication where a complaint is resolved within three business days, and allow complainants to complain direct to the ombudsman service if they subsequently decide they are dissatisfied.
The FCA stated only a small percentage (about 5 to 10 per cent) of complainants refer their complaint to the ombudsman under current arrangements and this is unlikely to change.
New rules are also being introduced limiting the cost of calls consumers make to firms to a maximum ‘basic rate’, including all post-contractual calls and all complaints calls.