St James’s Place sees fewer customer complaints

But the percentage of complaints upheld remains unchanged


St James’s Place saw a reduced number of complaints from customers in the second half of last year, but the percentage of these upheld remained the same as the previous half, data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed.

In the second half of 2018, St James’s Place UK Plc, received 898 complaints across its pension and investment products, with 87% upheld, compared with 924 complaints in the first half of 2018. However, the percentage of complaints upheld remained unchanged at 87%.

SJP’s wealth management arm was on the receiving end of 661 complaints, down slightly from 678 in H1 2018, with 29.5% of these upheld.

An overall decrease

Overall there was a 5% decrease in complaints made about regulated financial services companies in the second half of 2018, according to the regulator’s data.

The number of complaints fell to 3.91 million from 4.13 million in H1 2018, and it is the first drop since firms were required to change the way they report customer grievances in 2016.

Some 3,181 firms reported receiving one or more complaints during H2 18.

Of them, 231 companies reported receiving 500 or more customer criticisms, accounting for almost 98% of all complaints reported.

Gero Decker, chief executive and co-founder of business management firm Signavio, said: “Customer experience is the new battleground for the financial services sector.

“By embracing the customer journey as a strategic and creative imperative, firms can drive digital transformation, optimise operations and stay competitive.”


According to FCA data, 54 out of the 3,181 firms listed received complaints about investments, with Phoenix Group subsidiary Abbey Life Assurance receiving the most complaints per 1,000 policies in force.

Firm NameGroupComplaints per 1,000 policies in force
Abbey Life AssurancePhoenix Group17.9
Sun Life Assurance (UK)Sun Life Financial11.68
Countrywide AssuredChesnara10.61
Retail Money MarketRetail Money Market10.49
ReAssureSwiss Re10.49

This was a big change from H1 18, where the Phoenix Group had taken the top three slots with Phoenix Life Assurance receiving 45.8 complaints per 1,000 policies in force.

A company spokesperson told Portfolio Adviser‘s sister title International Adviser: “Improving customer outcomes is a key focus for the Phoenix Group and in the second half of 2018, new complaint volumes have reduced by 3%.

“Ensuring customers receive the right outcomes from their complaints is the most important complaints measure to us and our latest Financial Ombudsman Service overturn rate was 18%, which is well below the average for our industry of 28%.”

Decumulation and pensions

Data from the watchdog revealed that 39 firms received complaints about decumulation and pensions, with independent retail stockbroker The Share Centre receiving the most complaints per 1,000 policies for the second six-month period in a row.

Firm NameFirm GroupComplaints per 1,000 policies in force
The Share CentreShare12.92
Vitality Corporate ServicesRand Merchant Investment Holdings12.35
Financial Administration ServicesFidelity International8.67
Halifax Share DealingLloyds Banking Group8.6

International Adviser contacted The Share Centre for a comment about the data, which reflects another significant reduction in the number of occasions customers lodged formal grievances against it – but no response was received ahead of publication.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “It is encouraging to see that complaint figures have dropped, and firms are dealing with complaints more quickly.

“We expect firms to continue to focus on ensuring their customers are well served and that they respond quickly where consumers complain.”

Top customer objections

Payment protection insurance (PPI) continues to be the most complained about product, making up 40% of all complaints.

This, however, was a decrease of 8% to 1.58 million from 1.72 million in the first half of the year.

The drop was attributed to a change in reporting, which allowed firms to exclude any PPI complaints from their data where it was established that the complainant had not purchased a PPI policy from the firm.

Current accounts were the second most complained about product, but recorded a decrease of 13% from H1 18 to 691,395.

Credit cards complaints came third with a 10% increase to 386,195 in H2 18.


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