annual review 2017/2018

what we’ve done

enquiries and complaints infographic enquiries and complaints infographic

what we’ve seen

Even though things have moved on this year, the broader expectations haven’t changed. Businesses need to ensure they’re giving their customers fair answers – taking into account the rules and regulations, and learning from how we’ve approached things.

Charlie Sweeney, lead ombudsman & director of casework

In almost every ad break on the TV or radio, you’ll hear about deals for cars on finance…

Mark Hollands, ombudsman manager

We’ve noticed that some lenders aren’t being thorough enough with the affordability checks they’re carrying out right at the start. And if they’d taken more care at this stage, their customer might not have ended up in difficulty at all.

This year we’ve continued to hear from people who are concerned that they – or someone they know – are actually being penalised for their loyalty.

Sean Hamilton, ombudsman leader

Ash contacted us after getting into a dispute with his insurer. His insurer had written to him to say his driver rating was very poor – and that they’d cancel his policy if it didn’t improve…

It’s really important to be aware of the risks and consequences of taking a particular, and often irreversible, course of action with a pension.

Phil Miller, ombudsman leader

themes of the year

In 2018, the world looks very different to when the Financial Ombudsman Service was first established. And for us – like for the financial services sector itself – standing still simply isn’t an option. That’s why, over the last couple of years, we’ve been through the biggest transformation of our service since we were set up.

While continuing to manage the fall out of mis-sold PPI – with complaints still reaching us in their hundreds of thousands, accounting for over half of all those we receive – we’ve been ensuring that we’re able to respond to the problems people are having today, and that we’re ready for the future too.

Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman and chief executive

vulnerability: a fine line

17,256

new complaints about payday loans – an increase of 64%

146%

increase in complaints about home credit

1 in 4

new complaints, other than PPI, involved consumer credit

Over recent years we’ve highlighted the rising volumes of people telling us they’ve had trouble after borrowing money.

On one hand, this reflects shifting preferences in how people choose to pay for things. However, we’re concerned that some lenders just aren’t doing enough to ensure people’s borrowing is sustainable – or aren’t responding constructively to their customers’ concerns.

Even people who seem to be on top of their finances can quickly become vulnerable. The complaints we’ve seen this year highlight the need for people to anticipate potential risks to their money – and for financial businesses to be proactive in helping them to do so.

Given the choice, most people would want a problem resolved sooner rather than later. But if someone’s in vulnerable circumstances, the fact we can step in at an early stage can make all the difference.

Lauren Garrett, accessibility adviser

When Deepa contacted us, she was having serious financial difficulties. She’d taken out a number of loans with a home credit provider, whose rep visited her house to collect her repayments…

new ideas, new challenges

1,603,375

PPI complaints have been resolved since 2011

55%

of new complaints were about PPI

2,434,283

people visited our website this year

Developments in the way financial services are provided can mean greater flexibility and convenience. But these new ideas also present new challenges – which we’ve seen reflected in the complaints people bring to us.

In particular, new technologies have also increased people’s expectations of the speed with which companies they use, and organisations they need to interact with, respond to their questions or concerns. And something that seems like a simple transaction on the face of it might actually involve a number of different interactions behind the scenes.

So when people contact us for help, we need to be able to take a bigger picture approach – and work in flexible ways that mean people aren’t kept waiting for an answer.

We’ve also continued to respond to the long-term challenge of PPI mis-selling – in the year the FCA set a deadline for complaints.

Mina contacted us after her mobile phone bill was over £300 more than she’d expected. She said she’d let her seven-year old son play games on her phone – but hadn’t known he’d be able to make “in-app” purchases that would be added to her bill…

We’ve continued to develop our online portals, which we’ll be launching later in 2018. People with complaints will soon be able to log in, upload information and check on our progress online…

Lee Crawford, ombudsman manager

loyalty and trust

200

new complaints each month about the price of insurance

3,174

new complaints about travel insurance this year

5,257

new complaints received about pensions products in 2017/2018

This year we’ve continued to hear from people who feel particularly let down by a business they’d thought they could rely on.

During the year we received small but steady numbers of complaints about insurance premiums that had risen year-on-year – finally reaching levels that customers, or their relatives, believed were unacceptable. In some of these cases, we agreed that people had paid the price of loyalty.

Similarly, we heard from people who’d been counting on a business to do the right thing – but hadn’t received the care or support they needed. For example, while pension freedoms may offer greater flexibility, we’ve again seen how – at the point people are really relying on professional expertise – questionable advice has instead put their retirement plans at risk.

We also continued to meet people who use and take an interest in what we do – listening to feedback and sharing perspectives – to help build confidence in our own service.

The smaller businesses we cover – for example, IFAs and brokers – often have very specific concerns about the work we do. So we’ve continued to meet these businesses across the UK, so we can really unpack what a fair and reasonable approach means in practice.

Jim Hughes, policy and communications manager

Kim had received a cold call from someone saying they could help ensure she was getting a good deal in her retirement. But she was now concerned she’d received bad advice.

Financial Ombudsman Service website