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  • 15/01/2003
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I have received an official complaint from a client for the first time in my 15-year career. Should I immediately seek legal representation, and who will I be dealing with?

Complaints are, for most of us, part and parcel of our professional careers. It seems we almost encourage complaints and when a client does complain and heads the letter ‘complaint’ we jump to it and respond quickly.

It remains a subjective matter as to whether a concern raised by a client is a justifiable complaint or not and that is why you need to look at your policy on dealing with complaints.

The situation is complicated by the fact that IFAs have more than one regulatory body to which clients can refer and to whom they can be held responsible to.

The Mortgage Code Compliance Board (MCCB) has a regulatory function and will get involved in a complaint ‘ the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has a similar regime.

Therefore, it is not difficult to envisage a situation where an IFA who has arranged a mortgage with life cover will have to address and deal with the regulatory departments of two different organisations with potentially different cultures.

There are some golden rules in dealing with complaints which apply across the board. Firstly, do not be defensive. If you cannot look at the issues from the client’s perspective, you will never be able to be objective. Objectivity is essential in trying to take a balanced view.

Secondly, do not be derogatory. The majority of clients who raise issues do so out of what they think is a genuine grievance. And finally, do not be dogmatic. There is no sensible reason to fight tooth and nail against the client, the MCCB or the FSA if it is not commercially sensible to do so. Look at the complaint, ensure you research the points the client raises and be sensible when dealing with it.

Edward Goldsmith


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