The Financial Conduct Authority has been criticised for its slow handling of complaints as grievances ended up at the Complaints Commissioner for investigation.
In its annual report and accounts published yesterday (July 18), the Complaints Commissioner stated in the early part of 2019 it had been dealing with "repeated approaches from complainants who have been frustrated by missed deadlines and lack of information".
In an email response to a new complaint submitted recently, seen by FTAdviser, officials of the FCA’s complaints team stated the regulator had experienced an unexpected increase in the number of grievances received.
The email read: "Unfortunately, this means as a result, our reply to your complaint will take longer than we would normally expect.
"We are sorry this is the case, but please be assured that we are taking action to resolve the issue as a matter of urgency."
Of the 169 complaints against the FCA the commissioner received in 2018-19, 18 were brought to the watchdog to intervene, predominantly because of the FCA’s complaint handling delays, the commissioner stated.
The commissioner also stated that towards the end of the 2018-19 year complainants were not even being told when they might receive an update about the status of their complaint.
"This is in direct contravention of the complaints scheme, which requires the regulators to set out a reasonable timescale for completing each complaint," it stated.
This isn’t the first time the watchdog has raised concerns about delays with the FCA's complaints handling process.
In its response to the Annual Report 2018–19 of the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, the FCA stated that it has seen a rise in both volumes and complexity of the grievances it has received.
As a result, the regulator has increased the number of staff in the team by 4.5 full time equivalent employees to a total of 12.5.
The FCA noted that it has set out an action plan for 2019-20 which will improve its service delivery to complainants.
In the document, the regulator also promised to regularly review the complaints team’s resourcing to "ensure it is appropriate for future demand".
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