How to make a complaint about your financial services provider

If you're making a complaint against a financial services provider, you’ll get further if you follow these three steps.

946_MW_P22_Per-Fin

Keep calm and try the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you're complaining about a financial services provider, you'll get further if you follow these three steps.

Most of us would like to have as little as possible to do with financial services companies, whether banks, insurers or pension providers. But if you reach a stage where you need to make a complaint about a service or product, you need to know how best to go about it.

As with most situations where you want to make a formal complaint, your first step must be to contact the firm directly. Before you do so, make sure you have an idea of what you're looking to get out of the situation. Is your ultimate aim to receive financial compensation? Or are you merely looking for an acknowledgement that they have mishandled your case in some way?

Ideally, your first complaint should be by letter, or at least by email, so that you have a record of your correspondence from the very beginning. The industry regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), must respond to you, in writing, within eight weeks. (You can check a register of regulated financial-services companies on the FCA's website.) Their reply must detail whether your complaint has been successful, or alternatively why they will require more time to lookinto it.

If you don't get a response within eight weeks, or you're not happy with their answer, you can then go to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). This is a free and independent service specifically geared towards resolving disputes between customers and financial services companies.

The FOS will get in touch with the company to ask them for their side of the story, and then it will decide whether or not to uphold your complaint. Note that you must contact the FOS within six months of receiving a final response from the company, or it may not be able to deal with your complaint, as the FCA points out.

Lawyers are a last resort

Independent Assessor

Finally, the last port of call would be to take legal action though this is only an option if you reject the ombudsman's decision. If you accept it, then the decision is legally binding.

Note that there are companies who will pursue claims on your behalf, but such help comes at a cost, so you should carefully consider whether the potential benefit outweighs the expense.

Even if you go down the "no win, no fee" route, this could end up taking a significant chunk out ofany compensation youare awarded.

Recommended

How to trace lost accounts and share in £50bn of unclaimed assets
Personal finance

How to trace lost accounts and share in £50bn of unclaimed assets

Britons have amassed almost £50bn of unclaimed assets in lost accounts. Here’s what to do if you think some of the money may belong to you.
8 Aug 2022
Interest rates rise to 1.75% – the highest level since December 2008
Personal finance

Interest rates rise to 1.75% – the highest level since December 2008

The Bank of England has raised interest rates from 1.25% to 1.75%, and warns that the UK will fall into a recession this year.
4 Aug 2022
Smartphone banking: the best app-based bank accounts
Bank accounts

Smartphone banking: the best app-based bank accounts

Smartphone banking is convenient and, with features that help you budget and save, is becoming very popular. Saloni Sardana looks at the best app-base…
3 Aug 2022
Mortgage interest rates are surging – homeowners need to act now
Mortgages

Mortgage interest rates are surging – homeowners need to act now

Rising interest rates look set to spring a nasty surprise on millions of homeowners next year. You need to take steps today to protect yourself from a…
2 Aug 2022

Most Popular

Are UK house prices finally heading for a crash?
House prices

Are UK house prices finally heading for a crash?

The latest house price figures show a fall of 0.1% in July. With interest rates rising, inflation hitting double figures and a recession on the cards,…
5 Aug 2022
Brace yourself for the return of rationing
Economy

Brace yourself for the return of rationing

Russia is turning off the cheap energy. That is already leading to belt-tightening, says Matthew Lynn. Who will suffer most, and which sectors will th…
5 Aug 2022
Zhao Weiguo: China’s No. 1 chip tycoon vanishes
People

Zhao Weiguo: China’s No. 1 chip tycoon vanishes

Zhao Weiguo rode a decades-long boom in China pursuing Beijing’s core industrial policy of semiconductor self-sufficiency. Then he fell foul of Xi Jin…
5 Aug 2022