Technical information on the aggregate data

Firms are required to report to us every six months on the number of complaints they receive and how they handle them.

Changes to the data from 2016 H2 (1 July to 31 December)

Following changes to our rules in December 2015, as outlined in PS15/19 the data firms report to us on their complaints changed. Although they are not fully comparable to historic data we published, we believe the newer data set is more informative. For example, it provides an increased product breakdown, it puts the number of complaints into context in relation to the size of each business, and as a result gives us better understanding of what is happening within the sectors we regulate.

How have the changes affected the number of complaints now published?

These rule changes also increase the number of complaints reported to us as all complaints are now covered – previously complaints closed prior to the close of the next business day after they were opened were not covered in these data.

It is important to note that, had these changes been implemented earlier to include the first half of 2016, and based on data supplied to us by a sample of large banking groups – accounting for approximately 55% of all reported complaints in 2016 H2 - we estimate that the total number of complaints actually decreased when comparing 2016 H1 with 2016 H2 by approximately 14%. 

How did firms’ reporting periods affected the data in 2016 H1?

In 2016 H2, only 44% of firms submitted data using the new return while 56% of firms were still reporting to us using the old return. In 2017 H1 all firms were reporting using the newer return. This is due to firms submitting their data to us in line with their own financial year-end date which means they can have different reporting periods. In 2016 H2, firms using the new return accounted for approximately 90% of complaints, 10% of complaints were reported on the old return. You can see firms’ reporting periods in our firm specific data for those reporting 500 or more complaints in the six-month period.

How have the categories on the new return changed?

Our data are now split into five broad product groups and in turn these are then split into 50 new product or service categories. Some of the newer categories are not directly comparable to previous ones. For example, the ‘Decumulation and pensions’ product group used to be ‘Decumulation, life and pensions’, while ‘Insurance and pure protection’ product group used to be ‘General insurance and pure protection’. 

What else to consider when looking at our new complaints data?

Our analysis is based on the data supplied to us by firms in the new return and as such may be subject to possible reporting errors. We have carried out checks to seek to identify and correct errors where we are able to.

This analysis does not currently cover complaints relating to consumer credit products. We hope to publish these data when all firms with credit related permissions are authorised. We have published firm specific information about consumer credit complaints where firms have published this information themselves.

 

We publish complaints data every six months for firm returns with a half-year period ending between 1 January to 30 June (H1) and between 1 July and 31 December (H2).

Data with a reporting period-end date on or after 30 December 2016 have been submitted on new basis with a more detailed return as discussed above.

From the period starting 30 June 2016, the data cover the following four areas (the precise scope of the complaints reporting rules are set out in the FCA Handbook - see DISP 1.10):

  • Volume of complaints opened (or received) according to product, type of firm and cause of the complaint. Firms now report the volumes according to 50 different product categories (e.g. credit cards), previously they reported 25. These product categories can be combined into five different product groups (e.g. Banking and credit cards). The classifications can be found in Note 1 in the final page of the downloadable table.
  • Complaints handling – the data show the proportion of complaints addressed and the proportion resolved within three days or within eight weeks. We also collect data on the proportion of complaints upheld by firms (i.e. where the firm agrees with the complainant).
  • Redress paid (compensation payments by firms to complainants) – this shows the redress paid for complaints during the stated six-month period. These figures only cover cases where a cash value can be easily identified. It does not include other types of redress, such as extending the cover provided by an insurance policy. It also excludes redress paid which does not relate directly to complaints. For example the data may not include redress paid as a result of us taking legal action or where firms undertake a review of past business that leads to compensation payments.
  • Context data - the more business a firm or market undertakes the higher potential there is for complaints to be raised. As a result, we require firms to send us the number of opened complaints and they are also required to divide them, for example, by the number of accounts, or policies in force. This can then enable a better comparison of complaints between firms and markets as it takes their size into account. These data are split into five product categories and published at firm level for those firms receiving 500 or more complaints within a reporting period. They are then split depending on whether a firm provides an account or policy (for example, a bank or insurance provider - 'Context A' on our firm specific tables) or sells the product as an intermediary (for example, a financial adviser or insurance broker - 'Context B' on our firm specific tables). Currently this information is not mandatory for credit related complaints.

In August 2011, our predecessor organisation, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) began publishing separate figures showing how firms are dealing with PPI (payment protection insurance) complaints. It is important to note that the PPI redress data solely relate to PPI complaints whereas the aggregate complaints data published here include a wider product group of 'general insurance and pure protection' (refer to Note 1 of the downloadable table for the products within each product group).

It is also important to note that the data on PPI complaints handling refer to redress reported on a monthly basis while the aggregate complaints data refer to a six-month period. The differences in reporting periods and in coverage prevents comparison between these two data sets (for more information on PPI complaints please see payment protection insurance).

To provide a more detailed analysis of complaints handling data, each firm's data have been linked to our own categorisation of firm type (e.g. 'bank' or 'discretionary investment manager'). For information on how firms have been grouped by primary category, see note 1 in the downloadable table. This provides the analysis by 'firm type' shown for both the volumes and complaints handling data.

A caveat to this analysis is that such categorisation may not be wholly representative of a firm’s other significant functions. Therefore, this analysis does not provide a perfect match of the complaints handling information and the type of business to which it relates. This issue can also affect the change in reported complaints figures in each category between periods, as firms may switch from one category to another.

Our aggregate complaints data are official statistics. Official statistics are defined in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 as statistics produced by (amongst others) the (UK) Statistics Board, government departments including executive agencies, and any person designated by an order made by the Secretary of State. We are designated as a body to which the 2007 Act applies by the Official Statistics Order 2010.