Improving Complaints Handling – New FCA rules

The new rules for complaints handling, set out in PS 15/19, will come into force on 1 July 2016. The changes to the DISP rules are aimed at improving the consumer outcomes especially in relation to complaints currently resolved by firms through the informal process (within the following business day) allowed under the rules. The changes introduce a ‘summary resolution’ requirement for the complaints that are currently resolved within the following business day of the receipt of complaints by extending the time for resolution of such complaints to 3 business days from receipt and requiring firms to send a written communication to customers for each complaint. The changes also require firms to record, analyse and report all complaints received by them to the FCA including those closed through the summary resolution process.
In summary, the FCA have introduced the following new requirements for firms:

  • Extending the ‘next business day rule’ (for complaints handled less formally by firms, without sending a final response letter) to the close of three business days after the date of receipt
  • Reporting all complaints, including those handled by the close of three business days after the firm receives them
  • Raising consumer awareness of the Ombudsman service, by sending a ‘summary resolution communication’ following the resolution of complaints handled by the close of the third business day after receipt
  • New rules limiting the cost of calls consumers made to firms to a maximum ‘basic rate’, including all post-contractual calls and all complaints calls

 

Additionally, firms will be required to send data to the FCA’s improved ‘complaints return’ system, twice a year covering all complaints they receive.

These changes, apart from the cost of calls rule (which has already come into effect on 26th October 2015) will be effective from 30th June 2016.
As all complaints – both formal and informal – will be covered by the new rules, the new requirements are likely to have a significant operational impact for most firms including the need for additional resources that may be required for dealing with all customer grievances (however minor) in a formalised way, carrying out a trend analysis for all such complaints as well as recording and reporting all complaints to the FCA periodically. In fact, the first reporting of informally resolved complaints will start with the complaints return due for submission on or after 1 July 2016, which means that some firms may need to maintain full record of both formal and informal complaints from January 2016. While most firms do keep such records for an internal analysis, the formal reporting requirements impose a mandatory duty to do so in a structured manner to facilitate meaningful analysis and accurate reporting.

(Lightfoots will be able to provide tailored solutions to firms to enable them to meet their regulatory obligations under new rules including staff awareness training, complaints management, help with final response letters, record keeping and complaints reporting. If you need to discuss any of the requirements please contact us.)