The proportion of complaints against advisory groups found in favour of the consumer is significantly below the average for the sector, the Financial Ombudsman Service's (FOS's) latest data shows.
Complainants against the three advisory groups to make the FOS's list for the second half of last year - Openwork, Personal Touch and Sesame - were only successful 16%, 13% and 24% of the time respectively.
This compares to an average of 52% across all businesses in the FOS's list, though this figure is skewed by the proportion of successful complaints made against some banks, largely for payment protection insurance (PPI) claims.
The FOS's figures cover only those financial businesses against which the Ombudsman received at least 30 new cases and resolved at least 30 cases in the six-month period from 1 July to 31 December 2014. The FOS only deals with cases referred to it after they were unresolved at firm level.
|Group||No. of new cases||Proportion upheld|
|Hargreaves Lansdown AM||58||21%|
|Personal Touch FS||35||13%|
|St James's Place WM||47||45%|
In total across the period, the FOS took on a total of 161,649 new cases, of which almost 105,000 related to PPI. For complaints about financial products other than PPI, the total number of cases remained at a similar level throughout the year - 57,310 in the first half of 2014 compared to 56,771 in the second.
However, banking complaints increased by 8% and investment cases by 4%.
Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman said: "PPI complaints still make up the bulk of the ombudsman's workload and resolving these cases remains a priority.
"Although it's good news that complaint numbers are starting to level off, we have seen a change in the nature of the PPI complaints people are asking us to resolve - which are becoming increasingly hard-fought and more complex.
"In areas outside PPI, we continue to see many entrenched disputes that could have been avoided. We're also hearing dissatisfaction from people where their problems started with a simple misunderstanding. On these occasions, problems could often have been cleared up much earlier, if there had been better communication between the financial business and their customer.
"It will take time to rebuild people's trust and confidence in the financial sector. And a first step towards this is for all businesses to show they've dealt with their customers' complaints thoughtfully and with care. This is why we share what we see with businesses to help them understand our approach, while at the same time keeping fairness at the heart of what we do."
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