How to complain

If you're unhappy with a financial product or service, find out how to complain.

We don’t investigate individual complaints at the FCA, but the firms we regulate must have a process in place for resolving disputes with their customers.

If you're dealing with a firm in the European Economic Area (EEA), find out how to complain.

Step one: Contact the firm directly

If you have a complaint about a firm or service, you should first ask the firm to put things right. Contact them as soon as possible and make a record of how and when you got in touch.

Unless they resolve your complaint within three business days, all firms must respond in writing to let you know they've received your complaint.

Complaining to a financial services firm

In general, firms we regulate must respond to your complaint in writing within eight weeks. They must tell you whether the complaint has been successful or why they need more time to investigate the complaint.

Complaining to a payment service provider or e-money issuer

Payment service providers and e-money issuers must normally respond to certain types of complaints within 15 business days. If they can't provide a final response within 15 business days, for reasons beyond their control, they must explain the reasons for the delay.

You must receive a final response within 35 business days from when you first made the complaint.

Step two: Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you’re unhappy with the final response you get from the firm, or you don't hear from them within the relevant time period, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help.

The Financial Ombudsman is a free, independent service for settling disputes between financial services firms and their customers. It can deal with complaints about a wide range of financial matters – from pet insurance to stocks and shares. It will ask the financial firm to explain what it thinks happened and then decide whether to uphold your complaint.

You can check whether the Financial Ombudsman may be able to help with your complaint by answering a few questions on its online complaint checker.

It’s important you contact the Financial Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response from the firm, or it may not be able to help with your complaint.

If the firm agrees, the Financial Ombudsman may be able to consider your complaint before the relevant time period has passed. This could be eight weeks or 15 days depending on the type of firm (see 'Step one').

Using a claims management company (CMC)

There are companies that can complain on your behalf. These are usually known as claim handlers, claims firms or CMCs.

You don’t need to use a CMC to make a claim, it’s free and simple to do it yourself. You can also get free help from organisations like Citizens Advice and MoneyHelper.

CMCs will charge you a fee for handling your complaint. If you decide to use a CMC, you should find out how much they will charge and decide whether you're willing to have that money deducted from your compensation. Some companies will charge you a fee upfront.

Remember, there is no guarantee that your claim will be successful and you could be left out of pocket.

Find out more about using CMCs and the fees they can charge

Step three: Take the matter to court

If you don’t want to accept the decision of the ombudsman service, and you haven’t used an independent complaints scheme, you may be able to take your case to court as a last resort.

You would usually start civil legal action in the county courts or High Court (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), depending on the case. In Scotland, most small claims are started in the Sheriff Courts.

If you want to complain about the FCA, please use our form. Or, find out how to get in touch.

Page updates

16/06/2022: Editorial amendment General page updates and link added to complaint checker.
17/02/2022: Editorial amendment
10/08/2021: Information changed Pensions Advisory Service to MoneyHelper
24/03/2021: Link added in right-hand navigation to new 'how to complain for small business' page.
18/01/2021: Link added to 'Dealing with EEA firms'