Introduction

This document sets out the complaints handling procedures that we will follow in the event a client makes a complaint.
A complaint is:

Any expression of dissatisfaction from or on behalf of a customer, whether oral or written, irrespective of whether it is justified or not.

What do we do once a complaint is received?

A copy of this complaints procedure must be given to any complainant along with an Acknowledgement Letter, and to any client who requests it.

Any complaint, whether written or oral, must be referred to ‘The Complaints Officer’ immediately, even if the complaint has already been resolved with an apology.

All complaints will be referred, as soon as possible, to the Team Leader to liaise with the Complaints Officer or in the event that the Team Leader is involved in the subject matter, the Line Manager will be informed.

If both Team Leader and Line Manager are included in the subject matter, the complaint will be referred to the director who is not involved in the complaint and the director will then work with the Complaints Officer to resolve the matter. The Complaints Officer also has the authority to close a complaint.

This is done so the Complaints Officer can determine whether the statement by a client may be considered a complaint or not.

Money Advice Group will always endeavour to resolve any complaint as quickly and efficiently as possible, according to the Complaints Procedure.

If a complaint is not resolved by close of business on the day following receipt, what happens next?

Record Keeping

All complaints will be thoroughly recorded within the Complaints Register, by the Complaints Officer at each appropriate stage of handling. All recordings will be kept for a minimum of 3 years.

What if the complaint is about another firm?

If we receive a complaint that is not about us, or our services, and assuming that we can identify the firm to whom the complaint should be addresses, we will carry out the following:

We will write to the firm concerned, informing them we believe the complaint to be theirs, suggesting that they contact the client directly
We will enclose a copy of the original complaint letter, or a copy of our ‘Complaint Log Sheet’, if the complaint was verbal
We will write to the client, giving contact details of the firm concerned, and invite the client to get in touch. We will enclose a copy of our letter sent to the firm involved.
Acknowledging the Complaint

Once a complaint is received, we will send the complainant an Acknowledgment Letter within 5 business days, informing them we have acknowledged the complaint, that we will be investigating it and we will respond within 4 weeks, with a suitable outcome.

We will also enclose a copy of this Complaints Procedure, outlining how we are handling their complaint.
Investigation

The Complaints Officer will investigate all complaints and may, if considered necessary, consult the member of staff whose actions or omissions gave rise to the complaint. The investigation will involve a full review of the incident, and where necessary involve contact with third parties such as creditors to obtain information.

If the Complaints Officer is subject to the complaint, the investigation will be conducted by another senior person, where appropriate.

Immediately upon completion of the investigation, the Complaints Officer will write to the client notifying them of the outcome of the investigation, the nature and terms of any settlement, and that they can refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service if they are still not satisfied with the outcome. This letter has to be sent within 4 weeks that the complaint was received.

The letter should also point out that this should be done within the next 6 months or they may lose the right to take their complaint to the ombudsman. The letter should include the name, address and telephone number of the Ombudsman and a leaflet that explains the Ombudsman Service.

Where we decide that redress is appropriate, we will aim to provide the complainant with compensation. Any compensation offered must be fair and the basis of calculation should be explained to the client.

If the investigation is not concluded within 4 weeks and a final response letter has not been sent to the complainant, the Complaints Officer must write to the client informing him that the investigation is continuing and the reason(s) for delay and when he expects to be able to contact the client again.

Within 8 weeks of receiving a complaint, we will write to the complainant with a ‘Final Response’ which will inform the complainant, we either:

Accept the complaint, and where appropriate, offer redress; or
Offer redress without accepting the complaint; or
Reject the complaint, giving reasons for doing so.
When we send our Final Response letter, we will enclose contact details for the Financial Ombudsman Service and a leaflet outlining their services.

If the investigation is not concluded within 8 weeks, the Complaints Officer must write to the client informing him of the reasons for further delay. At this point, the Complaints Officer should explain that if the client is still not satisfied with the progress of the investigation, they can refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Again, the letter should also point out that this should be done within the next 6 months or they may lose the right to take their complaint to the ombudsman. The letter should include the name, address and telephone number of the Ombudsman and a leaflet that explains the Ombudsman Service.
Closing the Complaint

Where the firm receives confirmation from the client that they are satisfied with the findings of the investigation and any resolution, the complaint can be considered closed by the Complaints Officer.

Where no conformation has been received from the complainant within 8 weeks of the firm’s most recent letter, the complaint may also be considered closed.
What happens if a Complaint goes to the ombudsman?

The firm must cooperate fully with the ombudsman in resolving any complaints made against and agrees to be bound by any awards made by the Ombudsman.
Staff Understanding

All staff (including all secretarial and Administrational staff) are given a copy of these procedures and are required to sign their acknowledgement of receipt, understanding and agreeing to act within the requirements in all cases.
The Financial Ombudsman Service Contact Details
The Financial Ombudsman Service
South Quay Plaza
183 Marsh Wall
London
E14 9SR

Telephone: 08450 080 1800

Email: enquiries@financial-ombudsman.org.uk

Website: www.financial-ombudsman.or.uk