Complaints against advice firms “plummeted” in the second half of 2015, the latest Financial Ombudsman Service data reveals. Fos recorded 4,136 complaints about life and pensions advice between 1 July and 31 December 2015 – down 12 per cent from 4,680 in the first half of 2015. Similarly, investment advice complaints fell 22 per cent, from a total of 3,719 in the first half of 2015 to 2,898 in the second half.
A Fos spokesman says the drop in complaints can be attributed to the “relative stability” of financial markets during that period.
Sesame was the most complained about advice firm (it is a very large network) during the period, receiving 116 new complaints, down 33 per cent from 172 in the first six months of 2015. Some 27 per cent of complaints against Sesame were resolved in favour of the consumer. Openwork was next on the list, with 79 new complaints, down 29 per cent from 111 in the first half of the year. The uphold rate against Openwork was 19 per cent.
Although any complaint is disappointing, the continued trend of falling complaints about advice paints an encouraging picture, especially when one considers the total of advice complaints for life, pensions and investments in the second half of 2015 was 7,035, out of a total of 164,347 complaints received by Fos. Even if one ignores complaints about PPI, the total figure was 71,663, meaning yet again advisers represent less than 1 per cent of complaints, excluding PPI.
Fos puts it down to “relative stability”. Personally, I think it would be more accurate to put it down to growing professionalism, not just among advisers but among the army of staff who support them to deliver advice to clients.