Steep decline in complaints against members of SFA

COMPLAINTS against stockbrokers and other members of the Securities and Futures Authority have fallen sharply, writes Paul Durman.

The number made to the SFA and the Stock Exchange fell from 717 in 1991 to 516 over the 15 months to the end of March. The demise of Diameter Stockbrokers, which attracted nearly 200 complaints in the earlier period, was largely responsible.

Keith Woodley, the SFA's complaints commissioner, found that two firms received just over 50 complaints. He suggested they both dealt with large numbers of private clients via a telephone-dealing service.

David Jones, chief executive of ShareLink, the leading telephone dealer, which is coming to the stock market, said he did not know whether his company was one of them. He said complaints about ShareLink were 'very, very low' against the 500,000 deals it executed last year.

The commissioner found the SFA's complaints-handling procedures were effective and maintained a proper balance between the interests of investors and their brokers. He found complaints were being dealt with more rapidly than before. Not one of a sample of 108 that he reviewed had been handled unsatisfactorily.

Mr Woodley's report is much less critical of the SFA than he was of Fimbra, the regulator responsible for independent financial advisers.