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Article 8: Complaint Management and Complaint Resolution

N 1158/2021

8.1 Complaint Management and Complaint Resolution

8.1.1 Complaints Management Function Licensed Financial Institutions must have in place a Consumer Complaint Management function situated in the UAE. A Licensed Financial Institution may combine this function with another suitable function within its organization depending on the nature, size, potential for Conflict of Interests, and complexity of the business. The Complaint Management function must be independent of management of Retail Operations and able to carry out independent review of the escalated Complaints and make its recommendations to resolve a Complaint including provision of redress. This Complaint Management function is responsible for:

a. Defining the Licensed Financial Institution’s Complaint handling principles;

b. Monitoring all channels for reporting Complaints;

c. Defining roles and responsibilities of units involved in the Complaint process including Retail Operations, Risk, Compliance, Audit, etc.;

d. Adhering to service standards for turnaround times (TAT) for each step of the Complaint process;

e. Providing governance, oversight and regulatory reporting;

f. Monitoring, analysis, reporting of all Complaints;

g. Promoting Complaint resolution and recommending appropriate redress by the Licensed Financial Institution for harm done; and

h. Escalation of Complaints to the separate Complaint Resolution Mechanism. The Complaint Management function must ensure:

a. The Licensed Financial Institution’s written Complaint process and procedures are publicly available in branches and given to new Consumers with contact information including an email address and phone number for Consumers to file a Complaint. The email address and phone number must also be printed on all receipts handed over to Consumer, be present on the Licensed Financial Institution’s website and be displayed at a prominent location in the Licensed Financial Institution’s premises;

b. Easy and convenient access for Consumers to file a Complaint;

c. Proper processes for the registration all the Complaints received from the various channels, the classification and tracking of Complaints and the monitoring of TAT;

d. Acknowledgement of the Complaints with a unique service request (SR) number. The SR number shall be used for tracking and escalating the Complaints;

e. A written response is provided to the Consumer on the decision of the Licensed Financial Institution regarding the Complaint and include full and complete reasons for the decision, subject to lawful obligations;

f. The Consumer is informed in Writing if there is a violation of the TAT for issuing a final decision and provide the reasons;

g. The timed performance standards of the Licensed Financial Institution’s Complaint process are monitored and reported quarterly on the adequacy of the actual performance to Senior Management;

h. Potential breaches of the law are reported to the Licensed Financial Institution’s Compliance function without delay; and

i. The tracking and analysis of Complaint trends and issues and reporting to Senior Management on a monthly basis.

8.1.2 Filing of a Complaint When the Consumer has verbally expressed dissatisfaction with a Financial Product and/or Service and the matter cannot be resolved by frontline Staff to the Consumer’s satisfaction, Licensed Financial Institutions must inform the Consumer of his/her right to file a written Complaint through the Licensed Financial Institutions’ Complaint management process. When a Consumer’s dissatisfaction with a Financial Product and/or Service is verbally expressed but the Consumer does not wish to pursue it as a formal Complaint, Licensed Financial Institutions must maintain a log of the Consumer’s expression of dissatisfaction. The log will detail the date, issue and outcome and should form part of the analysis of the Licensed Financial Institution. A Consumer may file a Complaint through various communication channels that the Licensed Financial Institution may have including, but not limited to, emails, calls or on-line portals. When a Consumer wants to pursue a Complaint, the Complaint must be submitted to the Licensed Financial Institution. A Consumer may designate a person who is authorized by the Consumer to present a Complaint on the Consumer’s behalf. A written acknowledgment of the Complaint filed with the Licensed Financial Institution must be given to the Consumer within 2 complete business days. If for any reason the Complaint cannot be filed through the official channels provided, the Licensed Financial Institution must assist and document the Complaint on behalf of the complainant and register it under its Complaint management process.

8.1.3 Complaint Management Process The Complaint Management Process and Staff training must take into consideration and apply the Licensed Financial Institution’s Code of Fair Treatment of Consumers. Licensed Financial Institutions must have an efficient, well-resourced and dedicated phone line for Consumer Complaints and offer services on their secure web based portal system for receiving and communicating with consumers on the Complaints process. Licensed Financial Institutions must have Senior Management approval of the Complaint management policies and procedures that:

a. Establish the role, responsibilities and authorities of the Complaint Management function;

b. Are clear, complete and accessible for retail Staff;

c. Establish the Licensed Financial Institution’s Consumer Complaint process that is simplified and Consumer friendly;

d. Address the confidentiality of Consumer Complaint information;

e. Require proper record keeping of Consumer Complaints including secure retention for 5 years;

f. Require ongoing training programs for retail management and Staff;

g. Centralize the monitoring, oversight and supervision of the Complaint management in the Complaints Management function;

h. Require reporting to Senior Management on the progress of Complaints and on noticeable trends; and

i. Establish performance time frames for each step of the Complaint process including those prescribed by the Central Bank. Licensed Financial Institutions must set up effective procedures to monitor Complaints as specified in Section 8.2 of this Article and to make regular reports to their Senior Management for review (refer to Clause g. and i). Information to be reported must include:

a. Statistics on the volume and type of Complaints;

b. An analysis on how well the internal Complaint management system meets prescribed performance standards;

c. The results of any survey, root cause analysis and verifications conducted to gauge the level of Consumer satisfaction on Complaints handling; and

d. Whether repetitive Consumer related problems are being effectively identified and corrected. Licensed Financial Institutions must take appropriate steps to handle anonymous Complaints. Any problems alleged by the complainant and substantiated by investigation must be rectified as soon as possible. Ensure that Complaints received are acknowledged as received within 2 complete business days and Consumers are advised of the Complaint process. Within 30 complete business days of receiving a Complaint, or such other time limit as may be prescribed by the Central Bank, Licensed Financial Institutions must send the complainant in Writing, its final response with detailed reasons. A final response from the Licensed Financial Institution must:

a. Clearly accept or reject the validity of the Complaint in whole or in part (and where appropriate state offers of redress);

b. Provide detailed reasons for the rejection except where the reason of rejection is related to obligations with respect to Financial Crime Compliance or as may be prohibited by law; and

c. Inform Consumers of the process for escalation of unresolved Complaints to the Licensed Financial Institution’s Complaint Resolution Mechanism. Licensed Financial Institutions must have in place a verification process to monitor the fairness and adequacy of the Complaint management process and the decisions issued.

8.1.4 Resources and Training Licensed Financial Institutions must make available the resources needed to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of a Complaint management system. Licensed Financial Institutions must take reasonable steps to ensure that all relevant Staff are aware of the internal Complaint handling procedures and that they act in accordance with them. In particular, the front line Staff must be provided with training on how to handle and process Complaints. Licensed Financial Institutions must monitor the quality of how the Staff handles Complaints. The knowledge level and the service level standards for relevant Staff must be monitored on an ongoing basis and the standards set as Key Performance Indicators of the Complaint handling Staff.

8.1.5 General Provisions for Complaint Resolution Recourse to a fair and efficient Complaint Resolution Mechanism must be made available by the Licensed Financial Institution free of cost to the Consumer to address Complaints that are not resolved. The Central Bank will supervise the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Complaint Resolution Mechanism.

8.2 Complaint and Inquiries Management Data

8.2.1 Monitoring & Analysis of Data by Licensed Financial Institutions Licensed Financial Institutions must carry out Complaint Data monitoring that includes information and related statistics on the following:

a. Complaints received, closed and pending on a quarterly basis;

b. Complaints substantiated;

c. Complaints acknowledged outside target time;

d. Complaints resolved and closed outside target time;

e. Overdue Complaints;

f. Complaints before the courts;

g. Complaints referred to the Licensed Financial Institution’s Complaint Resolution Mechanism;

h. Complainants who remain dissatisfied with the results of investigation of the Complaint;

i. The nature and the value of redress provided;

j. Suggestions from Consumers arising from Complaints; and

k. Errors / omissions identified as either Systemic or non-systemic Errors. Details of all unresolved Complaints pending for each month must be reported to the Senior Management within 5 complete business days from the end of every month. Licensed Financial Institutions must undertake root cause analysis to identify the source of Complaint, e.g. Staff conduct issue, financial product issue, system issues, systematic issues etc. The Licensed Financial Institution must take corrective measures expeditiously and without delays. Complaints Data analysis must be augmented with thematic reviews, surveys and mystery shopping to develop a holistic understanding of Complaint trends. In addition to Complaints being monitored, the Consumer inquiries received should also be analyzed as this type of Data provides information on common issues which may indicate poor disclosure material, a misunderstood Financial Product and/or Service or other common issues that raise Consumer inquiries. The information gathered from the Data analysis, thematic reviews, mystery shopping or surveys must be utilized to improve the Licensed Financial Institution’s control framework and conduct.

8.2.2 Reporting of Data Licensed Financial Institutions must submit semi-annual reports to the Board and the response from the Board must be recorded. Senior Management must decide on the course of action that may be required based on the reports and information received and record all actions undertaken. Licensed Financial Institutions must submit through the Central Bank’s Complaints Data Management System monthly reports on Complaint data by the 15th day of the month. Reporting must be in a manner and format prescribed by the Central Bank. The Central Bank will hold periodic meetings with managers of the Licensed Financial Institution’s Complaints Management function to discuss the main trends and challenges and ways to address them.

8.2.3 Data Retention & Coverage Licensed Financial Institutions must record and retain details of registered Complaints for a minimum period of 5 years from the date of resolution or closure, whichever is latest. The details to be retained must include where applicable:

a. The complainant's name;

b. The substance of the Complaint;

c. The root cause of the Complaint; and

d. How the Complaint was resolved, and details of any redress offered by the Institution. Such Data maybe requested by the Central Bank at its discretion.