New figures released this morning showed that, overall, there were 1,602 resolved complaints and 36% were upheld.
Of these, there were 1,094 about sales and advice, of which, 39% were upheld. There were 434 complaints resolved about IFA administration, of which, 32% were upheld. There were 48 other types of complaint, of which 10% were upheld.
There were 161 complaints about IFAs relating to an event 15 years ago. Of the total complaints relating to this long ago, just 7% were about advisers.
On complaints by type of business independent financial advisers made up just 0.5%, with banks leading the list at 64%.
Some 50% of complaints came from just 4 business groups and 47% came from 427 businesses, out of over 56,000 businesses the FOS covers.
Caroline Wayman, chief ombudsman & chief executive, said she hoped the organisation’s discussions with advisers over the past year had helped to make their work clearer.
She said: “In changing times, it’s vital we maintain and grow people’s confidence in us. In last year’s annual review, we said we’d do all we could to support the small businesses we cover – committing to taking forward the Financial Advice Market Review’s recommendations for giving independent financial advisers specifically more certainty about the ombudsman’s role.”
The FOS held roundtable discussions in Glasgow, Stockport, Basingstoke and Sunderland, bringing IFAs together with the chief ombudsman and the FCA.
Ms Wayman said: “I hope the roundtables we’ve held with the FCA this year – in addition to our existing and long-standing engagement with IFAs and others – have gone a long way in giving reassurance that we’re on the same page, and always ready to talk.
“The roundtables have been particularly helpful in getting to the bottom of issues that cause uncertainty for advisers – for instance, what should be included in suitability reports, and how we’d approach cases involving “insistent clients” on the back of pension freedoms.
FOS officials also attended seven of the FCA’s Live and Local events.
Ms Wayman said: “While our roles are distinct, I think it’s been very important that advisers have had the chance to challenge us together – and to get the assurance they need that we’re on the same page.
“We and the FCA have been able to explain that the regulator’s guidance in these areas is clear, and that if a business has done what it should, then there’s no need to worry. We’ve really welcomed the honesty of conversations like these and look forward to them continuing into next year and beyond.”
The FOS report stated: “To help address the particular concerns of IFAs, the Financial Advice Market Review recommended in March 2016 that we publish more detailed information about complaints relating specifically to the advice sector, as well as about those involving events that took place more than 15 years ago.
“In response to this and wider feedback about how we could give greater insight into what we’re seeing, in October 2016 we consulted on what data we should publish in the future.
“As a result of this, in addition to the recommendations arising from FAMR, we’ve committed to sharing even more information about the complaints we’re upholding about businesses in different sectors about different products and issues. We hope this will help businesses see more clearly what’s going well and where they could be doing better.”