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The Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO), William Prasifka, has published his Office’s Bi-Annual Review (July to December 2012). The review shows an increase in complaints within this period and demonstrates some clear trends.

According to the report, 8,135 complaints were made by consumers to the FSO in 2012, the highest figure since the FSO was established and a 12 percent increase on 2011. Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints, representing 32 percent of all insurance complaints in 2012, have increased by 216 percent on 2011 figures. Banking complaints increased by 15 percent on 2011, with mortgage complaints accounting for almost 40 percent of all banking complaints.  

Banking complaints about customer care and maladministration doubled during 2012. Investment complaints continue to decrease, reflecting the downward trend in such complaints over the last number of years. In the last six months, there was a 50 percent increase in the number of complaints settled by financial institutions before full investigation, in comparison to January to June 2012. 2,990 findings were issued by the FSO in 2012. Additionally, compensation totalling approximately €1,735,000 was awarded in 2012.

According to Mr Prasifka, “the complaint trends in 2012 are of great concern. While more complaints are being settled on referral to the FSO, it is not in the interest of consumers or financial institutions to see a continued increase in complaints overall.”

The reason for the increase in complaints , he continued “is clear and this increase is likely to continue; this Office remains at the centre of dealing with legacy issues arising out of the financial crisis. For many citizens, their lives cannot move forward until these matters are dealt with fairly, effectively and expeditiously.” The Ombudsman stressed that much more needs to be done by financial institutions to “engage with Consumers before complaints arise”. Whilst some institutions have improved their complaint handling record, others have “remained static or indeed deteriorated”.