A complaint is defined as: Any expression of dissatisfaction from or on behalf of a customer, whether oral or written and whether justified or not.
Should you have cause to complain, and you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint you may be able to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which can be contacted as follows:
The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower, London, E14 9SR
Tel: 0800 023 4567 or 0300 123 9 123
Receiving a complaint
All complaints whether they are oral or written must be referred immediately to the complaints officer, Cliff Pocock, even if the complaint has already been resolved by an apology.
Any oral or written statement by a client which might be consider a complaint must be referred to the Complaints Officer so that he/she can determine whether it is a complaint or not.
Definition of a Complaint
The remaining sections apply only to complaints, which meet the following definition:
It is the firm's policy to treat all complaints, whether regulated or not, according to the Complaints Procedure.
All complaints will be properly recorded on receipt by the Complaints Officer and at each appropriate stage of handling within a Complaints Register. All records must be kept for a minimum of three years.
On receipt of a complaint, the complaints officer will decide which category and product type the complaint relates to, and record this on the Complaints Register. The categories and types are defined by the FCA.
Acknowledging the complaint
In relation to all written complaints, the Complaints Officer will acknowledge your complaint in writing within five business days.
In relation to all oral complaints, the Complaints Officer will acknowledge your complaint in writing within five business days, setting out his understanding of the complaint and inviting you to confirm in writing the accuracy of that statement.
The acknowledgment letter will outline the result of the investigation if complete.
If it has not been completed, the acknowledgment letter will confirm that the firm:
A copy of the complaints procedure will be enclosed with our acknowledgment letter.
The Complaints Officer will investigate your complaint and may, where he considers it necessary, consult the adviser/member of staff whose actions or omissions gave rise to the complaint. The investigation will include a review of your client file, and may where necessary involve contact with third parties such as product providers to obtain information.
Should you complain to us regarding service from a Third Party with whom we are connected, we undertake to provide guidance as to how that Complaint should be taken forward and, if appropriate, shall refer on your Complaint to that Third Party on your behalf.
If appropriate, a complaint will be referred to another firm and/or provider should we have reasonable grounds to be satisfied that the other firm/provider is solely or jointly responsible for the issues(s) raised.
If the investigation is not concluded within four weeks, the Complaints Officer will write to you informing you that the investigation is continuing and the reasons for the delay and when he expects to be able to contact you again.
If the investigation is not concluded within eight weeks, the Complaints Officer will write to you of the reasons for further delay and that if you are not satisfied with progress you may refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The letter will also point out that this should be within the next six months or you may lose that right. The letter must incorporate the name, address and telephone number of the Ombudsman and a leaflet about the Ombudsman's arrangements.
If the Complaints Officer is subject to the complaint, the investigation will be conducted by another senior person who will be suitably qualified to handle complaints and will act independently from the Complaints Officer.
The Firm will:
Immediately on completion of the investigation the Complaints Officer will write a final management decision letter to you, notifying you of the outcome of the investigation, the nature and terms of any settlement, and if you are not satisfied with the outcome you may refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The letter will also point out that this should be within the next six months or you may lose the right to take the complaint to the Ombudsman. The letter will incorporate the name, address and telephone number of the Ombudsman and a leaflet which explains the Ombudsman arrangements.
Any compensation offered must be fair and the basis of calculation should be explained to you. The firm will comply promptly with any offer of remedial action or redress accepted by the complainant.
Where the firm receives confirmation from you that you are satisfied with the findings of investigation and any resolution, the complaint could be considered closed by the Complaints Officer.
Where no confirmation has been received from you within eight weeks of the firm's most recent letter, the complaint may also be considered closed.
All our communication with clients will be clear, fair and not misleading.
The Complaints Officer is responsible for submitting a report to the FCA every six months detailing the total number of complaints, the number of complaints closed by the firm within four weeks, eight weeks, after eight weeks and the total number of complaints outstanding.
If your complaint is resolved to your satisfaction within 24 hours of you making it, it need not be reported to the FCA.
The FCA must be informed of the person responsible for handling complaints, and of any changes.
The firm must co-operate fully with the Ombudsman in resolving any complaints made against it and agrees to be bound by any awards made by the Ombudsman.
The firm undertakes to pay promptly the fees levied by the Ombudsman.
All staff (including all administration and secretarial staff) are given a copy of this procedure and are required to sign their acknowledgment of receipt, understanding and agreement to act within the requirements in all cases.
‘As a firm, and as individuals, we intend to behave towards our clients in a way that is honest, open and competent and with integrity always acting in the best interests of the client, having ensured that we have an informed understanding of their needs and desires.’