The number of complaints fell to 3.91 million from 4.13 million in H1 2018, and it is the first drop since firms were required to change the way they report customer grievances in 2016.
Some 3,181 firms reported receiving one or more complaints during H2 18.
Of them, 231 companies reported receiving 500 or more customer criticisms, accounting for almost 98% of all complaints reported.
Dr Gero Decker, chief executive and co-founder of business management firm Signavio, said: “Customer experience is the new battleground for the financial services sector.
“By embracing the customer journey as a strategic and creative imperative, firms can drive digital transformation, optimise operations and stay competitive.”
According to FCA data, 54 out of the 3,181 firms listed received complaints about investments, with Phoenix Group subsidiary Abbey Life Assurance receiving the most complaints per 1,000 policies in force.
|Firm Name||Group||Complaints per 1,000 policies in force|
|Abbey Life Assurance||Phoenix Group||17.9|
|Sun Life Assurance (UK)||Sun Life Financial||11.68|
|Retail Money Market||Retail Money Market||10.49|
This was a big change from H1 18, where the Phoenix Group had taken the top three slots with Phoenix Life Assurance receiving 45.8 complaints per 1,000 policies in force.
A company spokesperson told International Adviser: “Improving customer outcomes is a key focus for the Phoenix Group and in the second half of 2018, new complaint volumes have reduced by 3%.
“Ensuring customers receive the right outcomes from their complaints is the most important complaints measure to us and our latest Financial Ombudsman Service overturn rate was 18%, which is well below the average for our industry of 28%.”
Decumulation and pensions
Data from the watchdog revealed that 39 firms received complaints about decumulation and pensions, with independent retail stockbroker The Share Centre receiving the most complaints per 1,000 policies for the second six-month period in a row.
|Firm Name||Firm Group||Complaints per 1,000 policies in force|
|The Share Centre||Share||12.92|
|Vitality Corporate Services||Rand Merchant Investment Holdings||12.35|
|Financial Administration Services||Fidelity International||8.67|
|Halifax Share Dealing||Lloyds Banking Group||8.6|
Richard Stone, chief executive of The Share Centre, said: “We pride ourselves in our customer focus and always seek to provide all our customers with the best possible service.
“Sipp accounts are a relatively small proportion of our business and so the complaints appear high when expressed as a percentage of that relatively small number of accounts. We stepped in to acquire business from Beaufort Securities when it went into special administration.
“This included a book of Sipp accounts and 53% of the complaints received in the second half of 2018 related to those acquired accounts. I would note that looking at the first half of 2019 to date our complaints level in relation to our Sipps would be 7.6 complaints per 1000 accounts showing significant improvement on the figures published today.
“As a business of course we take any complaint or expression of dissatisfaction very seriously and it is encouraging to see that where we have complaints these are addressed successfully within three days ensuring the customer’s issues are resolved.”
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “It is encouraging to see that complaint figures have dropped, and firms are dealing with complaints more quickly.
“We expect firms to continue to focus on ensuring their customers are well served and that they respond quickly where consumers complain.”
Top customer objections
Payment protection insurance (PPI) continues to be the most complained about product, making up 40% of all complaints.
This, however, was a decrease of 8% to 1.58 million from 1.72 million in the first half of the year.
The drop was attributed to a change in reporting, which allowed firms to exclude any PPI complaints from their data where it was established that the complainant had not purchased a PPI policy from the firm.
Current accounts were the second most complained about product, but recorded a decrease of 13% from H1 18 to 691,395.
Credit cards complaints came third with a 10% increase to 386,195 in H2 18.