The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has said it welcomes a regulatory review into how "major" financial institutions handle complaints, but warned it first needed to look at the barriers to complaining.
Last week, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced it would conduct a review into the ways firms handle complaints because "something isn't working".
But deputy chief ombudsman Tony Boorman, speaking at the Regulatory Policy Institute competition and regulation conference this week, said customers of financial services products often found it hard to identify problems when they occurred.
He said the industry needed to find a better way for consumers to complain quickly when things go wrong than via claims managers, which are "plain annoying" and "expensive from the perspective of the consumer".
"Unlike in most retail markets, the cause for complaint [in financial services] is often far from obvious to the consumer," he said.
"If my new car breaks down, or if my tin of beans contains bugs, it's easy enough to understand what has gone wrong and who I should expect to put things right. But if the investment I was advised to purchase fails, is that just the way markets work, or was the advice poor?, "he said.
He added: "Ensuring that problems can be identified - and then heard clearly - should be at the top of the agenda [of the FCA review]."
The FCA last week announced it would conduct a review of the handling and management of complaints in major firms, including building societies. The review will consider how firms identify, record and report complaints, as well as probe their approach to redress and root cause analysis.
The regulator said it had found that "something isn't working in the way firms manage and investigate customers' complaints".
The announcement came after FOS handled a record number of more than 327,000 complaints in the first half of this year.
Lloyds was the worst offender, receiving more than 129,000 complaints in the period, up 38% on the previous six months. Barclays received more than 44,000 complaints.
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