There were a record 4.13 million complaints about regulated financial services companies in the first half of 2018 (1 January-30 June), according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The results showed a 10% (360,108) increase compared to the previous six-month period (3.77 million complaints), reaching a record high.
Unsurprisingly, payment protection insurance (PPI) remained the most complained about product, accounting for 42% (1.72 million) of all complaints received in the first half of this year – a rise of 11% (166,748) compared to the second half of 2017.
After PPI, the next-most complained about products are current accounts (15%) and credit cards (8%).
Decumulation and pensions
According to the FCA data, 40 out of the 3,161 firms listed received complaints about decumulation and pensions, with independent retail stockbroker The Share Centre receiving the most complaints per 1,000 policies in force.
Richard Stone, chief executive of The Share Centre, said: “It is very disappointing to be top of the complaints table in respect of Sipps. However, we would note that this is in large part a result of the fact that we have relatively few Sipp accounts. We received a total of 48 complaints related to pensions, largely in respect of transfers, 21 of which we upheld. The data relates to the first half of 2018 and since then we have received substantially fewer complaints in the second half of the year.”
|Complaints per 1,000 policies in force
|The Share Centre
|Halifax Share Dealing
|Lloyds Banking Group
|Alliance Trust Savings
|Equinity Financial Services
*Figures recorded between 1 October 2017 and 31 March 2018
Data regarding complaints about investments saw the Phoenix Group in the top three slots. This compares with the second half of 2017 where they took first, second and fourth place for complaints regarding insurance, investment and pensions.
|Complaints per 1,000 client accounts
|Phoenix Life Assurance
|Abbey Life Assurance
|Sun Life Assurance
|Sun Life Financial Group
A spokesperson for the Phoenix Group said: “Phoenix has a complex suite of legacy products, which can lead to higher level of complaints received. Our consolidated figure across all our life companies for the decumulation and pensions sector for the first half of 2018, where the majority of our polices sit, is 1.7 complaints per thousand which is in line with the industry.
“Ensuring customers receive the right outcomes from their complaints is our most important complaints measure, and we continue to strive towards the right customer outcomes with a lower-than-average FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) overturn rate and a strong complaint handling strategy.”
Commenting on the data, Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “Firms need to be doing all that they can to reduce complaints. It is clear that firms need to look at the cause of the rise in complaints and address these issues to prevent further increases.
“It should be a priority for firms to ensure good consumer outcomes are achieved and they should be making sure that they are taking the right steps to treat customers fairly.”