According to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the number of complaints made to EU regulators by financial consumers in the first half of 2016 has increased. ESMA’s recent report on trends, risks and vulnerabilities (TRV) reveals that the total number of complaints reported across the EU was 7,026 in H1-16 compared to 5,152 in H2-15.
The three most common causes for complaints made directly to national regulators in H1-16 were:
- Problems with execution of orders (31%)
- Poor quality or lack of information (19%)
- Unauthorised business (15%)
Looking at complaints categorised by the financial instrument, the leading types of instrument generating complaints in H1-16 were:
- Bonds and other debt securities (20%)
- Shares, stock and equity (17%)
- Options, futures and swaps (17%)
- Financial contracts for difference, or CFDs (15%)
One clear trend was an increase in the proportion of complaints relating to bonds and other debt securities, this has become the most complained-about instrument.
It is noticeable that complaints relating to investment advice, in contrast, have fallen markedly over recent years. ESMA believes that to be associated with the stringent measures taken by National Regulators and ESMA.
One new area of complaint, based on the complaints made directly to investment business firms, highlights that fees and charges are increasingly causing concern to retail investors. Regulators believe this is likely to be because such charges appear to be much higher due to the very low yields investors are earning in the current market environment. A 1% annual management charge does not appear excessive when investments are growing at 8% or more per year but seem extremely high if your investment portfolio only earns 1% or 2% a year.
ESMA works closely with national regulators to gain insight into the issues facing European retail investors and how those issues have evolved over time. ESMA collects data, analyses and reports on trends in the retail market for financial products, as part of its remit to promote transparency, simplicity and fairness in the market for consumer financial products or services across the internal market.