Press Release - 21 August 2013

Office's Bi-Annual Review for January to June 2013 on 21 August 2013

The Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO), William Prasifka, publishes his Office's Bi-Annual Review (January-June 2013) online (PDF document).

Changes to the FSO legislation are due to come into force shortly (September 2013). These changes will allow the FSO to publish complaint data of individual Financial Institutions. This information will be published as soon as practicable.

The Review for January to June 2013 shows that:

  • 4,676 complaints were made by Consumers to the FSO in the first half of 2013, a 27% increase on the same period last year.
  • 1,503 Findings were issued in the first half of 2013.
  • 21% of complaints were settled between Consumers and Financial Institutions, without the need for full adjudication by the FSO.
  • Complaint outcomes indicate a poorer performance by the Banking sector compared to the Insurance and Investment sectors.

Insurance

  • Insurance complaints continue to make up 50% of all complaints received.
  • Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints increased by 150% over the same period last year and account for 44% of all insurance complaints so far in 2013.
  • Most PPI complaints concern alleged mis-selling of PPI to Consumers.
  • Travel, Household and Motor Insurance complaints are mainly about repudiation of claim and settlement amounts.This reflects a need for industry to do more to inform Consumers as to insurance products and relevant conditions at point of sale.

Banking

  • 36% of complaints received in the first half of 2013 were about Banking products.
  • Mortgages and accounts generate the most complaints in the Banking sector.
  • Mortgage-related complaints increased by 51% on the same period last year, with 'MARP' and 'Tracker' related complaints driving this increase.
  • 36% of Banking complaints concern maladministration and customer service issues.
  • The trends show approximately 10% more complaints are upheld against the Banking Sector compared to the Insurance and Investment Sectors.

Investment

  • While Investment complaints account for only 12% of all complaints received by the FSO, these complaints tend to be more complex and raise more difficult issues which must be addressed in adjudication.

In publishing the Review, Mr Prasifka states that:
"The Review shows the same issues and complaint types recurring each year. Despite this Office indicating how complaints would be dealt with, the Review suggests that some Financial Institutions have not sought to learn from previous complaint experiences and Findings issued.

The Banking sector has not shown an improvement in its complaint handling. Mortgage complaints and general account administration are two areas in particular where the Banking sector must show improvement, particularly as this Office has issued many Findings in both areas showing how such complaints will be considered.

Insurance and Investment sectors must ensure that it allows consumers to fully inform themselves of the products they are purchasing and to familiarise themselves with the conditions of their insurance.

Although some Financial Institutions have made genuine effort to engage with their customers before complaints escalate, a large number continue to treat the FSO's Office as 'just another complaint department'. This attitude is not in the spirit of regulatory codes or in the interests of consumers. It reflects badly on the financial industry at a time when it needs to actively and genuinely work with its customers.

In order to address this continuing trend, this Office has introduced a new approach for dealing with complaints efficiently, fairly and effectively. Before coming to the FSO, Consumers must first engage with their Financial Institution as per the Consumer Protection Code. Financial Institutions must show and document their efforts to deal with these complaints comprehensively and fairly before referring consumers to the FSO.

Furthermore, recent changes to legislation means the FSO will be able to publish complaint records of individual Financial Institutions in future Reviews.

In light of the above, it is hoped that Financial Institutions will work with Consumers to resolve complaints and show a willingness to learn from previous FSO Findings."

For further information please contact:
Conor Cashman, 01 631 8575

Financial Services Ombudsman's Bureau, 3rd Floor, Lincoln House, Lincoln Place, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01 - 6620899 Email: media@financialombudsman.ie