FSA issues fines for poor complaint handling

The FSA has issued a number of fines to RBS and Natwest for poor complaint handling.

RBSThe Financial Services Authority has fined Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and National Westminster Bank (NatWest) £2.8m for failing to properly handle complaints.

More than half the complaints reviewed by the FSA were found by the regulator to have been inadequately resolved. Response times were unacceptably high and complaint handlers were found to be failing to obtain and consider all the appropriate information when making their decision.

53% of the reviewed complaints showed deficient complaint handling; 62% showed a failure to comply with FSA requirements on timeliness and disclosure of ombudsman referral rights; and 31% failed to demonstrate fair outcomes for consumers.

FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “We expect firms to treat customers fairly and that consumers can be confident their complaints will be dealt with properly. The failure of these two high street banks to deal adequately with complaints put consumers at unacceptable risk and the fine of £2.8m reflects this.”

The regulator also confirmed that RBS and NatWest are considered to be one bank in the context of the review, suggesting that one more bank could still be fined.

The failings at NatWest and RBS came as a result of the thematic review by the FSA, which has seen five banks undertake significant action to improve their complaint handling.

The FSA require RBS and NatWest to work with an independent skilled person to undertake an extensive review of all parts of their complaint handling arrangements.

In a statement RBS says: “We acknowledge the findings of the FSA investigation. It confirmed shortcomings in our routine complaint handling that we assessed in our own internal review and which we are committed to putting right. We recognise the importance of complaint handling for our customers and are focussed on addressing the root causes of complaints.”

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