Invesco and SJP face barrage of complaints

Record 4 million complaints made against financial services firms in first half of 2018

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Invesco and St James’s Place were among the investment groups that received the most customer complaints over the first half of the year, data from the Financial Conduct Authority has shown.

Figures published by the regulator on Monday revealed that a record 4.13 million complaints were filed against 3,161 firms during the period, up 10% compared with the year before.

However, the regulator said that 98% of the complaints involved the same crop of 235 firms.

Invesco’s UK asset management arm received 1,187 complaints in H1 18 related to its investment products. Only 30% or 356 of these were ultimately upheld.

Complaints held against SJP rises

On the discretionary management side, St James’s Place again found itself facing a barrage of complaints in the first six months of the year.

The UK’s largest wealth manager had more than 924 complaints made against it during the period, predominantly across its pension and investment products.

Though the number of complaints dropped from 1,200 the year prior, 87% complaints were upheld by the regulator, higher than the 79% of complaints that were upheld last year. SJP was the company with the sixth highest proportion of complaints upheld.

Complaints made against its wealth management arm edged up slightly year-on-year from 659 to 678. As with H1 17 only one quarter were upheld.

A spokesperson for SJP said: “We take our client satisfaction very seriously and regret any occasion where an error results in a correction being required.  The number of complaints received during the first six months of 2018 continues to be low when compared to our client base of over 600,000.”

Other offenders

BMO Global Asset Management’s F&C team was another asset manager to make the list of 200-odd repeat offenders. The FCA said that 505 complaints were filed against F&C between November 2017 and April 2018, half of which were upheld.

Investment products accounted for just 2% of all complaints filed over the first half of the year, the regulator said.

Portfolio Adviser contacted both Invesco and BMO for comment but did not hear back.

Platform providers Hargreaves Lansdown and Cofunds were also named in the report. Hargreaves Lansdown racked up around 2,200 complaints over the period, while rival Cofunds saw over 2,300 complaints brought against it.

Just over half of the complaints brought against Hargreaves Lansdown were upheld. Cofunds had a higher rate of complaints that were upheld at 63%.

Commenting on the figures, Hargreaves Lansdown head of communications Danny Cox said: “We are always disappointed when clients are not happy with the service we offer”. Cox noted that the number of disgruntled consumers represents just 0.2% of the 1.1 million customers whose savings and investments the firm looks after.

An Aegon spokesperson blamed the level of customer dissatisfaction with Cofunds on the “operational and service issues” that emerged following the upgrade of clients to the Aegon platform.

Over the last few months we have implemented a plan to improve service levels and have made significant progress with core trading such as money in, money out, switches and call waiting times now on track,” they explained. “Advisers and their customers have our commitment that we are working quickly to clear remaining issues and return to the level of service they should expect.”

PPI leads complaints

The regulator said on Monday that PPI continued to be the most complained about product, accounting for 42% of complaints made over the period.

The FCA has stepped up its efforts to encourage customers to give their feedback, particularly those who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI). In September 2017 it launched a £42m ad campaign featuring a robotic, disembodied head of Arnold Schwarzenegger to raise awareness of the deadline for making complaints about PPI.

Excluding PPI, total complaints rose by 9% from the previous six months. The next most complained about products were current accounts (15%), credit cards (8%) and motor and transport insurance (6%).

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said he was encouraged to see that more consumers were making their voices heard.

“Firms need to be doing all that they can to reduce complaints,” he said. “It is clear that firms need to look at the cause of the rise in complaints and address these issues to prevent further increases.

“It should be a priority for firms to ensure good consumer outcomes are achieved and they should be making sure that they are taking the right steps to treat customers fairly.

“We are encouraged to see that figures are showing that more consumers are making a decision on whether to complain about PPI.”

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