Financial Conduct Authority  

MPs step in over 'troubling concerns' at FCA

MPs step in over 'troubling concerns' at FCA

MPs have stepped in over "troubling" concerns surrounding the way the Financial Conduct Authority handles complaints from consumers. 

In an update today (June 26) the Treasury committee revealed its chairman, Mel Stride, had written to the regulator and its watchdog the Complaints Commissioner addressing a growing number of complaints about the FCA.

It follows a recent decision published by the Complaints Commissioner in which he warned of  "serious delays and poor complaints handling" at the regulator. 

Mr Stride said: "The complaints scheme requires that those who complain to the FCA should be provided with timescales; their complaint should be dealt with by people with sufficient seniority; and their complaint should be resolved as swiftly as possible with the aim of satisfying the complainant.

"Whilst it is troubling that the commissioner has stated that these requirements are not currently being met in some of the cases that reach him, he has also noted that the FCA is making genuine attempts to address these complaints-handling problems."

Mr Stride said whilst it was "welcome" that the regulator had committed to addressing the issues, it had not yet solved the problems. 

He added: "The Treasury committee will expect to see real progress from the FCA in this area and will be seeking regular updates including in our evidence sessions with the FCA."

The concerns are part of an ongoing theme at the regulator, with the commissioner's annual report published last year flagging "repeated approaches from complainants who have been frustrated by missed deadlines and lack of information".

But complaints commissioner Antony Townsend said the situation had "considerably worsened" over the past year and warned the FCA would not be able to "overcome its current difficulties" unless it could "strengthen and stabilise" its complaints team.

The commissioner said the delays were partly as a result of an increased in workload at the regulator which was "struggling to cope" with a "team [which] is inadequately resourced and put under stress".

In response to the Treasury committee's letter Mr Townsend said: "Many complainants are currently suffering prolonged delays in the handling of their complaints, with inadequate communication.

"I need to emphasise that many of the complainants under the scheme – whether consumers of financial services or people in small businesses regulated by the FCA - are people who have suffered significant loss and are in considerable distress.

"They come to me often at their wits’ end because of the lack of progress."

But the commissioner said the FCA had been "candid" about the problems it is facing. 

In a letter to Treasury committee chairman Mr Stride, FCA chairman Charles Randell said the regulator was "absolutely committed" to implementing changes to address complaint delays. 

Mr Randell said: "I would like to start by confirming that we accept the commissioner’s criticism raised in the above case and the wider comments he has made in his response to you around the levels of service and quality of complaints handling.