The Royal Bank of Scotland and subsidiary NatWest have been fined a total of £2.8 million for failing to respond properly to customer complaints, after poor management of a database hindered key processes.
The banks were directly criticised for the way they logged information on a central complaints management database. The information was lacking and did not give “sufficient oversight about whether customers were being treated fairly”, regulator the Financial Services Authority said in its Final Notice as it issued the fine.
The banks accepted the conclusions of the FSA investigation early, and as a result the fine was 30 percent lower than the £4 million penalty that could have been issued.
The news comes as the FSA is under fire for not yet publishing a report, that cost over £7 million to produce, into failings at state-owned RBS. The report into the collapse of the bank cleared RBS directors of wrongdoing but highlighted failures. The FSA is seeking permission from RBS to release the report publicly.
In its final notice today as it issued the complaints fine, the FSA said RBS management information “generated from the central complaint management database and from the results of any control testing done at the branch level did not give sufficient oversight about whether customers were being treated fairly”.
On the database all complaints are meant to be logged, with correspondence tracked and root causes identified. A complaint handler is required to keep the database updated with the details of any actions taken and copies of all correspondence relating to the complaint.
Complaint handlers were incorrectly logging disputes and resolutions on the database, the FSA said. In part this was owing to incomplete training on the system and on procedures.
The situation did not improve, the FSA said, because control processes involved checking that complaint handlers adhered to processes and deadlines, rather than assessing the quality of investigations and outcomes.