Financial firms hit by 9m complaints in just three years

MORE than 9m complaints were made against financial services firms between 2006 and 2008, according to data released by the City regulator for the first time yesterday.<br /><br />The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said complaint levels rose by 5.7 per cent over the period, with dissatisfaction with banking and loan products accounting for half.<br /><br />This was in large part due to the high-profile issues around bank overdraft charges and payment-protection insurance mis-selling.<br /><br />In total the number of complaints was 2.72m in 2006, which rose to 3.41m the following year, before falling back to 2.9m 2008.<br /><br />In the second half of 2008, 40 per cent of the complaints were settled in favour of customers, the FSA said.<br /><br />Last year 1.93m of complaints were directed at banks and the next biggest targets were life and other insurance companies, which had 419,914 unhappy customers.<br /><br />The FSA said the move to release data on customer complaints was an important step towards transparency in the City.<br /><br />But the FSA statistics came under fire yesterday, after insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said they could mislead consumers.<br /><br />Maggie Craig, director of consumer strategy for the ABI, said: &ldquo;The FSA&rsquo;s aggregate data does not reflect the fact that there are 160m general insurance and 82m life insurance policies in force. Overall, that&rsquo;s just one complaint for every 1,200 policies during the second half of 2008.&rdquo;