Complaint Handling – Policy and Procedures

Policy

  • A complaint is any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, from, or on behalf of, a person about the provision of, or failure to provide, a financial service, which

–  Alleges that the customer has suffered (or may suffer) financial loss, material distress or material inconvenience and

–  Relates to an activity of our firm, or of any company with whom we have some connection in marketing or providing financial services or products, which comes under the jurisdiction of the FOS

  • Complaints may be received verbally, written or indirectly from an external source.  All complaints, either verbal or written, must be investigated and the appropriate action taken.
  • As any member of staff may receive a complaint at any time and by any means (e.g. email, telephone, in person, by letter) it is very important that all staff should be aware of and understand the importance of following this policy and procedures.
  • A general query or a request for additional information is unlikely to constitute a compliant, however, if in any doubt, the issue will be recorded as a complaint.
  • All complaints will be handled with courtesy at all times, even if the individual receiving the complaint believes that the complaint is unjustified.  All complaints will be handled professionally and brought to conclusion according to FCA rules and TCF Principles.
  • Complaints are a key source of management information and the quality of information entered into the Complaints Register is vital to ensure that the business continually improves.
  • If a complaint relates to conduct, it must not be handled by the person against whom the complaint is made.  In this instance, the person handling the complaint must be a senior member of staff.
  • In each case, the facts of the complaint will be investigated, reviewed fully and the outcome recorded in writing for our firm’s Complaint Handling records.

Record Keeping

  • We will retain records of the complaint and the investigation surrounding the complaint, indefinitely
  • Records will include any correspondence between our firm and the complainant and notes of any discussions with the complainant
  • Any supporting evidence used to investigate to complaint
  • Details of redress or goodwill offered (if any)
  • Details of the individual investigating the complaint
  • Details of the final response decision
  • Details of the Financial Ombudsman Service information provided to the customer

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

  • Individuals are eligible to refer their complaints to FOS if they have raised their complaint with us and either they have not received a final response letter within 15 days (or 35 days in exceptional circumstances), or the final response letter has been received but is not satisfactory to them.
  • The FOS is free to consumers, although a case fee may be charged to the business against which the complaint is made if the case is accepted, whether or not the case is found in the consumer’s favour.
  • The FOS records complaints cases where the outcome was “not upheld” to include those where it recommends a nominal amount of redress/nominal increase in redress be offered.
  • The FOS may request information from our firm in order to review the case and make a decision. It is therefore vital that well maintained an robust records are held in relation to all complaints received.
  • The Complaints Manager will act as the initial point of contact with FOS. However the Complaints Manager may request that the individual who originally handled the complaint provides information if required to do so.
  • The final decision of FOS is binding on all parties only if the complainant accepts the decision. If the complainant does not accept the decision, it is not binding on either party.
  • Our website will include a statement within the regulatory footer as follows:

“The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOR) is an agency for arbitrating on unresolved complaints between regulated firms and their clients.  Full details of the FOS can be found on its website at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.”

Logging of complaints

For every complaint received, the date, time, nature of the complaint, customer’s name and contact details will be recorded along with our response (upheld / not upheld) and the justification for this decision, along with the date of the final response.

Redress

Redress is appropriate if the firm upholds a customer’s complaint.  Its purpose is to put the customer back into the position they would have been in if the matter bringing about the complaint hadn’t occurred. Redress offered to a complainant will be fair and in proportion to their financial loss.  If there is no financial loss, or possibility of financial loss (for example if a customer is complaining about the poor customer service they believe they have received), this rule will still apply.

Goodwill

Goodwill may be offered to a customer is some circumstances, but it is not a substitute for redress.  Goodwill may be offered by our firm if we do not uphold a customer’s complaint, but our firm wishes to offer the customer a gesture of kindness in order to maintain a good business relationship with them.

Root cause analysis

Our firm will review past complaints cases in order to identify business shortcomings and development areas.  Such data will be included in Complaints Handling Management Information, reviewed regularly by senior management.

Any trends will be identified, the implication of these trends and their potential effect on other customers, past and future.  Staff training and / or remedial action may also be taken, as appropriate.

Publicising the complaints procedure

In relation to the internal complaints procedure, the following will take place:

  • Our firm’s complaint handling procedures will be made available to our customers and they will explain how customers can complain to us in writing and by telephone
  • A copy of our complaints procedure will be provided upon request, and a copy supplied to a customer automatically upon receipt of a complaint
  • All complaints handling literature and correspondence intended for a customer will be written in clear and plain language
  • All complaint procedure information, in whatever format, will be provided in writing
  • The complaints procedure will be made clear on our website and our website footer will also reference recourse to the FOS

Types of complaints

Our firm will treat regulated complaints in the same manner and process as for non-regulated complaints.

Communications with customers

We will communicate with customers throughout the complaint investigation process.

Training

All employees will receive complaint handling training upon joining the company and on a regular basis as a refresher, annually.

Complaint Handling Reporting to the FCA

Complaints management information may be requested by the FCA.  At all times, detailed records of the number and type of complaints, the investigation and the outcome will be retained for this purpose, as well as for our internal quality assurance purposes.

Complaints Procedure

Initial acknowledgement

Upon receipt of a complaint, a written acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint, giving the name and title of the Complaint Handler will be issued promptly to the complainant.

This acknowledgement will also include:

  • A summary of our firm’s Complaints Procedure
  • Information about the complainant’s right to refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if they are not satisfied with our firm’s response

Final response

A final response will be sent to the client within 8 weeks of our firm’s receipt of the complaint.

In addition, the client will be told, in writing, that they may refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if they are dissatisfied with the delay.  We will inform them that their referral to the FOS must take place within 6 months after our firm has received their complaint.

The FOS explanatory leaflet must be enclosed with this communication or emailed to the customer if communications are agreed by email.

The final response letter at or before 8 weeks following the receipt of the complaint

When the written response is sent, it will include the following information:

  • An outline of the complaint made
  • Our decision to uphold or not uphold the complaint
  • The reason for our decision
  • An offer of redress if the customer has been financially affected
  • Information explaining how the complainant may pursue the complaint if they remain dissatisfied
  • Reference to the to the availability of the FOS

Complaint Summary Resolution

If a complaint can be resolved within 3 business days from receipt, we may send a Complaint Summary Resolution Letter to the customer. This will be classed and recorded as a ‘short complaint’ and included in regular regulatory reports to the FCA.

Solutions Scotland is a trading style of Milton & Stirling Ltd, Company Number SC587851 – Solutions Scotland, 78a Stanley Street, Glasgow, G41 1JH. DPA number ZA431921

Milton & Stirling Ltd are an Appointed Representative of MichaelAlan Ltd who are authorised & regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FRN 690939.

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