FSA keeping close eye on endowment complaints despite consumer action

The findings showed that around 2.2 million households (82% of those that still have an endowment-linked mortgage) have an average projected shortfall of £7,200. The majority of the 2.2 million households (69%) have taken action to address their situation and a further 14% intend to take action in the future. Just over a million households (48%) have restructured their mortgage, savings or endowment; other action taken includes seeking advice or pursuing a complaint.

So far, the FSA has distributed more than 29 million endowment factsheets to consumers, either directly or via firms, and since 2000, nine firms have been fined for endowment-related failings.

The FSA has also worked with many other firms to ensure they address misselling and complaint handling issues. The FSA is now entering the next phase of work on mortgage endowments, which will focus particularly on firms' complaint handling.

The regulator says firms must continue to handle complaints properly. The FSA will continue with its programme of robust supervision and, where necessary, enforcement. It is establishing a set of key performance criteria to identify any firms that are still failing to meet acceptable standards.

The FSA will also pay particular attention to how firms prepare themselves for any potential increase in the numbers of complaints over the next 12 months, following the issue of further 'red' reprojection letters and the implementation of time bars by some firms.

Anna Bradley, the FSA's Director of Retail Themes, said: "It is important for consumers that firms handle complaints fairly, effectively and promptly – as our rules require. There has been a sustained effort by the industry to improve complaints handling; we will now be focussing our efforts on those few firms that have not yet established appropriate standards. And we also expect firms to act now to make sure they have adequate contingency plans in place for any increase in the volume of complaints. Those firms not maintaining acceptable standards of complaints handling, will be required to rectify the situation. Where necessary, we will use the full range of remedial sanctions available to us to achieve our objective."