Stopping Groundhog Day: The FCA’s Plans For Cultural Change

Sarah Lawrence

Sarah Lawrence

Sarah has spent over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, including over 16 years working at the Financial Ombudsman Service. Sarah specialises in customer service and complaints handling, with extensive experience of management and mediating complaints and is dedicated to passing on her knowledge and experience to businesses to improve complaints handling, customer service and consumers’ perceptions of the industry.

I’ve been in financial services for longer than I care to mention and to be honest when you’re the proverbial dinosaur like me, then you start to notice cyclical patterns that seem to repeat every few years.

Things like the problems that led to the pension review in the 90s, when I was just starting my first job in the industry, have become a problem again with DB transfers some 25 years on. It’s the financial services equivalent of Groundhog Day and exactly why the FCA wants to see wholesale cultural change to prevent it happening yet again.

Now, I’m aware that I’m in danger of becoming a broken record, because I’ve been banging the table about this issue since the FCA released its business plan back in 2019:

Here’s the thing though, if you’re thinking ‘well, I missed that important announcement’, don’t worry, there wasn’t one. Instead, it relied on you reading page 15 of the business plan. As such, you’d be forgiven for blinking and having missed it.

Here’s what it said though:

‘Our long-term aim is to transform culture in financial services firms, so that firms cause less harm to consumers, businesses and the real economy. In the long term, we can measure this through upheld complaints levels, consumer redress levels and feedback from consumers. However, there are significant challenges in both measuring culture objectively and in establishing the causal link between cultural change and consumer, market and business outcomes’.

That’s right, the FCA announced the measures it intends to use to show the cultural change it’s working towards – upheld complaint levels, consumer redress levels and feedback from consumers, and it slipped by fairly unnoticed.

Groundhog Day - Complaints Worksmaert

So why am I talking about this now? Because not only are we facing the Groundhog Day scenario with pensions, we’re also seeing it with Business Interruption Loans and the insurance industry. If any of you missed it, the FCA ended up taking a number of large insurers to court over claims that hadn’t been covered for small businesses when Covid sprung up. This was back in September, and the press seemed surprised at the fairly challenging approach the FCA took.

But, for those of us that had spotted page 15 of the Business plan, it seemed that all the FCA was doing was standing by its plans for cultural change. This means that we could be seeing more of the FCA taking these stands for consumers, to prevent the harm it sees the industry causing, but also to make businesses want to sit up and stop Groundhog Day revolving around again.   

What does this mean for you? Well, in broader terms it means starting to look at your own business against those three measurables that have been mentioned by the FCA, before they become set in stone and the FCA starts to flex its new muscles in relation to the stats.

Because, we’ve had a few warning shots now and it’s on us to start taking stock and responsibility for our small share of the industry. If enough of us take responsibility in this way, then we can start to turn the tide for the better as an industry.


workplace culture complaints



RegTech is a relatively new word but one that is key to the long-term success of managing compliance issues, complaints included, in the future. Regtech is the collective name, used by the FCA, to describe software solutions that manage compliance related processes more effectively, so increasing the probability of firms’ complying with the regulation, and at a lower cost.

Worksmart has picked up the ACQ ‘Complaints Management Solutions Provider of the Year’ award for the last two years, which is testament to the feedback we have been receiving from our ever-expanding customer base.

Three key features available in the Worksmart complaints solution, Caresmart, enable firms to gain clear sight of their complaints ‘uphelds’, complaint types and redress levels, specifically: 

  • Caresmart enables multiple items of redress to be captured in a single, each of which can be categorised individually and at different stages in the complaint process.
  • Caresmart ensures consistency of redress payments for specific types of complaints by matching the same product type, nature of complaint or both. This enables case handlers to see the highest, lowest and average amounts of redress paid for similar cases whilst still allowing each case to be considered on its own merits.
  • Caresmart generates complaints MI and analytics in a timely and efficient manner, with drill-down capability allowing for quick identification of cases making up the numbers. Upheld complaint levels, consumer redress levels and feedback from consumers can all be reported on via the standard suite of reports, either manually or scheduled to automatically be delivered to users via an email with the report attached in a range of different formats.


If you would like to know more about how Caresmart could help transform your complaints processes, contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on: 01908 613613 or email us on:



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