Financial Ombudsman Service  

Fos complaints down 30% but another spike looms

Fos complaints down 30% but another spike looms

The Financial Ombudsman Service has reported a fall of more than 30 per cent in complaints made by consumers over the past year, but it reckons volumes could soon rise again as the cost of living worsens.

In its latest quarterly data published today (September 7), the Fos said it recorded 35,029 new cases between April and June 2022, compared with 50,906 during these same months in 2021.

New complaints during these months were 2,428 less than the previous three moments - January to March.

A Fos spokesperson told FTAdviser: “Complaints to our service are down this quarter compared with this time last year, and anecdotally, I understand that self-invested personal pension complaints are consistent with this overall trend.”

New Sipp cases received by the Fos spiked at the end of 2021, up 73 per cent over just two quarters.

The Fos put recent increases in new complaints down to the impact of Covid-19 and affordability, stating levels of complaints returned to “more normal levels” in the months leading up to this summer.

However, it warned that complaint volumes could rise once again rising in the near future.

“As we look ahead, we are mindful of the new challenges that the worsening economic environment and the rising cost of living could bring. As a result, we may see an increase in the volume of complaints,” the Fos said today.

“We will continue to engage with industry bodies, businesses and the FCA about their expectations for complaint volumes over the coming months.”

The Fos has started to separate out types of Sipps in its complaints data, making it hard to compare the most recent data with previous quarters. 

A spokesperson said of the Sipp-related complaints it does see, the majority continue to be about Sipp provider due diligence issues.

This chimes with the recent fall of Rowanmoor’s £1.4bn Sipp business, which fell foul of its due diligence checks on an introducer.

Of the types of Sipps the Fos listed, unregulated collective investment schemes and other non-standard investments made up the most new Sipp complaints.

Some 193 of these complaints were made, with 116 referred for a Fos decision and an uphold rate of 74 per cent.

Standard investment Sipps racked up 153 new complaints, though only 51 were referred for a Fos decision and the uphold rate was 51 per cent.

Meanwhile, defined benefit transfers to a Sipp totalled 140 new complaints, with 61 referred for a decision - of which 66 per cent were upheld.

Investment scams 'fastest growing fraud complaint'

The number of investment scam complaints received by the Fos has climbed a further 14 per cent over the past year.

The Fos received 570 investment scam complaints between April and June 2022, compared with 500 received in the same quarter last year.

Having made up 21 per cent of all scam complaints last year, the proportion now taken up by investment scams has risen to 30 per cent. 

Other scam types include impersonation (33 per cent), buying goods not received (25 per cent), and ‘other’ (12 per cent).

The Fos upheld around 60 per cent of investment fraud complaints in the consumers’ favour.