Don’t let the FCA use complaints to rate you

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

Clearly inspired by those Meerkat adverts and that opera singer hollering about comparing, from next year financial services firms will be forced to send all their complaints data to the regulator so they can be published and used by consumers to help them shop around.

What could possibly go wrong?

A complaint, in itself, is not evidence of wrongdoing.

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Only failure to handle, acknowledge and deal with a complaint effectively shows up a shoddy company.

My best friend told me she set up a Twitter account just to complain about a provider that ignored telephone calls made by her parents about delays to an insurance payout being made. She spotted while her parents couldn’t get any sense out of the telephone-based team, this company instantly responded to grumbles made about them on social media.

This public forum means the insurer can look good as they promptly respond to frustrated Tweeters and make offer of amends.

In the wider world my friend says she will never use this insurer again, as it is disgusting they fear their name being blackened online, but fail to be courteous and efficient in handling telephone call queries.

I fear complaints are not the best – and should not be the only – measure of the quality of a firm.

I would only bother to make a complaint if I felt it was warranted and likely to be addressed. Just because a firm has zero complaints does not make it the best firm ever.

High street giants like John Lewis receive complaints. It is how the likes of John Lewis deals with complaints that make them stand out from some of their shoddier rivals.

Regulatory compliance specialist AHK has warned firms that the FCA’s new complaints rules will strain the resources of smaller firms and have a potential impact on their reputation and commercial success.

Businesses will have three days to resolve complaints less formally, rather than the existing ‘next business day’ rule, but will be required to send customers a simpler template message, informing the complainant of their right to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

I feel many of you should complain to the FCA if this data is used to create a TripAdvisor or RatedPeople-style comparison website of advisers working in the industry today, as experts FTAdviser spoke to earlier this week fear it will be used in this way.

The FCA already publishes complaints data it currently receives but only for firms that receive more than 500 complaints.

Let us hope that remains the way the FCA handles this data in the future as you don’t deserve to be slated for the fact your clients are happy to raise their concerns with you.

Interestingly, I fear if the FCA ever did get into the business of using data to rate you many of you won’t bother to complain as you feel the regulator simply will not listen to your concerns.

Does your failure to make a formal complaint make the FCA a fantastic regulator?