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annual review 2014/2015

1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015

who the complaints were about

This section sets out how the new complaints we received in 2014/2015 were spread across the different sectors of the financial services industry.

businesses complained about - by sector

financial services sector %
banks 73.5
general insurers 8
general insurance intermediaries 4
building societies 3.5
life insurance and investment product providers 3
businesses with a consumer credit licence 2.5
mortgage intermediaries 2
independent financial advisers (IFAs) 1
other (including fund managers and stockbrokers) 2

As we expected, we continued to see significant numbers of complaints about payment protection insurance (PPI) this year. So the proportion of complaints against banks - who sold the policies involved in the majority of PPI complaints - remains high.

While most other areas remained broadly the same, there were some changes from last year. For example, the proportion of new complaints about general insurers was more than 50% higher - whereas the proportion of complaints about general insurance intermediaries was 20% lower. And while the proportion of complaints involving consumer credit businesses remained small, it more than doubled from last year.

financial products most frequently complained about - by sector

These tables split the new complaints we received into product areas - and show how these complaints were spread across the different sectors of the financial services industry.

complaints about payment-protection insurance (PPI) %
banks 87
general insurers 5
insurance intermediaries 4
building societies 4
other 2
complaints about insurance (excluding PPI) %
general insurers 59
insurance intermediaries 16
banks 12
life insurance & investment product providers 6
Society of Lloyd's 1
other 6
complaints about banking and credit %
banks 79
businesses with a consumer credit licence 11
mortgage intermediaries 5
building societies 3
other 2
complaints about mortgages %
banks 64
mortgage intermediaries 20
building societies 9
IFAs 2
other (including non-bank mortgage providers) 5
complaints about investment products %
life insurance & investment product providers 41
banks 26
IFAs 13
stockbrokers and fund managers 6
building societies 4
other 10
complaints about pensions %
life insurance & investment product providers 54
IFAs 20
banks 8
other 18

the outcomes of complaints

Like previous years, the proportion of complaints we “upheld” in the consumer’s favour varied across financial products. For example, we upheld 85% of complaints about card protection insurance - but only 2% of complaints about SERPs. There’s more information about the outcome of the complaints we resolved this year in the chapter the complaints we resolved.

Every six months we publish data on our website about the complaints we’ve been dealing with. This shows the number of new complaints we received and the proportion of cases we upheld - for the businesses that have accounted for the majority of our workload over that time.

The chart below shows the outcome of complaints we resolved during the year - by financial sector.

% of cases we upheld - by financial sector %
banks 61
businesses with a consumer credit licence 48
intermediaries selling PPI 47
general insurers 42
independent financial advisers (IFAs) 39
intermediaries selling general insurance 38
intermediaries selling banking and/or mortgage products 36
life insurance and investment product providers 28
building societies 13

how the complaints referred to us were spread across the businesses we cover

  • 2,312 businesses each had 1 complaint referred to us during the year
  • 592 businesses each had 2 complaints referred to us
  • 260 businesses each had 3 complaints referred to us
  • 633 businesses each had between 4 and 10 complaints referred to us
  • 196 businesses each had between 11 and 20 complaints referred to us
  • 188 businesses each had between 21 and 50 complaints referred to us
  • 102 businesses each had between 51 and 100 complaints referred to us
  • 81 businesses each had between 101 and 250 complaints referred to us
  • 35 businesses each had between 251 and 500 complaints referred to us
  • 49 businesses each had more than 500 complaints referred to us during the year

We cover more than 70,000 businesses in total - mostly businesses that are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (including businesses that previously
held a consumer credit licence issued by the Office of Fair Trading) - as well as a number of businesses that have signed up to our “voluntary jurisdiction”.

The businesses we cover range considerably in size - from sole traders to multinational financial services providers. As in previous years, the number of complaints we received about different businesses generally reflects the size of those businesses.

  • 4 banking groups accounted for 58% of new cases.
  • the next 39% of cases were from 356 businesses.
  • the remaining 3% of cases were from 4,037 businesses
    (with fewer than 25 cases each).

Out of the total number of businesses we cover, fewer than 5% had complaints referred to us this year. 58% of the complaints we dealt with involved four of the UK’s largest banking groups, while only 96 cases - 0.03% - were about credit unions.

Since April 2013 each business we cover has paid a case fee only for the 26th and each subsequent complaint referred to us during the year. This means that in 2014/2015 nine in ten of the businesses that had complaints referred to us paid no case fees at all.

… nine in ten of the businesses that had complaints referred to us paid no case fees at all

how managers working in financial businesses rated our service

  % who agree % who express no view % who disagree
the financial services industry can have confidence in the ombudsman service 60 20 20
our service is good value for businesses
who pay the levy/case fees that fund us
53 27 20
our decisions on cases are fair and unbiased 51 26 23
our decisions are consistent 47 25 28
we provide a good dispute-resolution service for businesses 66 17 17

how complaints handlers working in financial businesses rated our service

  % who agree % who express no view % who disagree
we handle complaints efficiently and professionally 72 23 5
we get to the bottom of complaints and deal with the issues thoroughly 77 11 12
our decisions are fair and unbiased 73 14 13
we settle disputes within an acceptable length of time 61 20 19
general satisfaction with our service 73 9 18

Just as we need consumers to trust our answers, it’s important that the businesses we cover have confidence in the way we settle complaints. To find out how people working for financial businesses feel about our service, we carry out regular surveys.

The surveys are sent to two different groups. One group includes management - for example, heads of compliance, customer service managers, legal advisers and company secretaries - who don’t generally work with our caseworkers. The other group includes the people who handle individual complaints - and so have far more direct, day-to-day experience of our work.

… complaints handlers who work with us directly are generally far more positive

Like previous years, we continue to find that complaints handlers who work with us directly are generally far more positive about our service than their managers. This reflects the constructive working relationships we have with complaints handlers - which means they tend to be more familiar with how we work and how we reach fair decisions.

However, we were pleased this year that the proportion of managers who said they felt our decisions were fair rose from 39% to 51%. We hope this is a result of our ongoing conversations with financial businesses - where we discuss our approach to complaints at more senior levels.

There are more details about how we engage with and support financial businesses in the chapter our insight and outreach.

annual review 2014

annual review 2014/2015

And if you can't quite make it through all 176 pages - you can see all the highlights in this handy 3 minute video.