Resolving a complaint

An overview for CMCs of how complaints are resolved.

We have years of experience dealing with financial disputes, and use this knowledge to help businesses resolve complaints fairly and effectively.

This guide outlines what happens when you receive a complaint from a customer. It covers each step of the process – whether it’s a complaint that can be quickly resolved by you or something more complex that needs our help.


A customer makes a complaint to your business

If a customer has a complaint about your business, you’ll always have an opportunity to try and resolve it before we get involved.

You should treat any expression of dissatisfaction from your customer – in person, over the phone or in writing – as a complaint.


You deal with the complaint

Once you receive the complaint, you’ll need to acknowledge it and look into it within the timeframes set out in the FCA Handbook.

You’ll then need to write to your customer setting out your response to their complaint. It’s important to be clear with them and explain the reasons for your answer.

You’ll also need to tell them about our service, and explain that they can bring their complaint to us if they don’t agree with you.

If the customer accepts your response, there won’t be any need for us to get involved.

If you have any questions or need general guidance on dealing with complaints, our business advice desk is on hand to help.

Find out more about what you need to do before we get involved.


The customer brings the complaint to us

If the customer isn’t happy with your response – or they haven’t heard from you within the time allowed – they can ask us to get involved.

One of our case handlers will look into the complaint. If it’s something we can deal with, we’ll ask for both sides of the story and work out what’s happened.

Most complaints can be resolved at this stage, without the need for an ombudsman to get involved.

Find out more about how we handle complaints.

Find out about when we charge case fees


The complaint is referred to an ombudsman

If you or your customer don’t agree with what we’ve said, the complaint can be referred to an ombudsman.

They’ll independently review the case, and their decision is legally binding if it’s accepted by your customer. We’ll publish a copy of the final decision on our ombudsman decisions database.

Find out more about how we handle cases.


Putting things right

If we decide the customer has lost out we’ll tell you how to put things right.

This might involve paying money (for a loss or any trouble and upset caused). Or it might involve a direction to do something else.  

Find out more about compensation.