Astra Asset Management UK Limited (Astra or “the Firm”) conducts its business in line with our clients’ best interests.
Although Astra’s culture is to “get things right the first time”, it is accepted that on occasion a client may feel that the Firm has fallen short of this aspiration.
It is important that every complaint received is considered by the Firm and is responded to in an appropriate manner, not only to comply with any regulatory obligations but also to ensure that the integrity of the Firm is maintained. In addition, an analysis of the cause of the complaint may provide Astra with a learning opportunity to improve the services that we offer to clients.
This policy sets out how Astra deals with both “complaints” and “MiFID complaints”.
Complaint or MiFID Complaint
A complaint can be regarded as any oral or written expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, concerning the provision of a financial service and which alleges that the complainant has suffered (or may suffer) material distress or material inconvenience.
A MiFID complaint basically relates to MiFID business. MiFID sets out how firms such as Astra should deal with such complaints.
MiFID complainant or Eligible complainant
The MiFID complaints handling requirements apply to clients’ or potential clients’ complaints. As such they are applicable to retail clients, professional clients and to eligible counterparties.
An “eligible complainant” is a UK concept and refers to both a “consumer” (see below) and certain other entities such as a micro-enterprise, small charities and a trustee of a small trust.
A consumer is any natural person acting outside of their trade, business or profession. Therefore, a consumer, and hence an eligible complainant, can be an individual that is either a retail client or a professional client.
Given the above, a “MiFID complainant” could also be an “eligible complainant”.
The distinction is important as only an eligible complainant is permitted to refer a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) where eight weeks have elapsed since receipt of the complaint.
Complaints handling, oversight and monitoring
The firm has established, and maintains, complaints management procedures for the prompt handling of clients’ complaints. The policy has been endorsed by the firm’s management body.
The firm is required to establish a “complaints management function” responsible for the investigation of complaints. This role is carried out by the compliance function under the supervision and oversight of Mark Murray, the Chief Compliance Officer.
The firm’s compliance function, even where it is not the appointed “complaints management function”, is specifically charged with responsibility for analysis of complaints and complaints-handling data to ensure that risks and issues are identified and resolved e.g. identification of root causes and the impact upon other processes or products, including those not directly complained of. The compliance monitoring undertaken by the firm addresses this requirement.
For the avoidance of doubt, responsibility for implementation of the complaints management policy and for monitoring compliance with it rests with the firm’s senior management.
Details of the firm’s complaints handling process must be published (e.g. in brochures or the firm’s website) and made available to clients or potential clients on request or when acknowledging a complaint (see below). The details will include information about the complaints management policy and the contact details of the complaint management function (see below).
Where there are potential eligible complainants information about FOS, and its website address, must be provided (“in a clear, comprehensible and easily accessible way”) on both the firm’s website and in the general conditions of the contracts with eligible complainants. Such information will include the right of an eligible complainant to approach the FOS when eight weeks have elapsed since receipt of the complaint.
Making a complaint
A complainant should set out their complaint in writing, providing as much detail as possible and either post the complaint to:
Astra Asset Management UK Limited
35 King Street
Complaints handling process
- All complaints received from a client should be referred to the Compliance Officer. In practical terms there will be no major difference in the firm’s approach to the resolution of complaints from any complainant.
- All complaints will be acknowledged promptly, confirming receipt of the complaint and that it is being dealt with. The acknowledgement must be accompanied by a copy of the firm’s published complaints handling process (see “Complaints awareness” above).
- If the complainant is an eligible complainant, then when communicating to the client, they will be informed that if the complaint is not resolved they may be entitled to refer it to the FOS (see “Complaints awareness” above). In general, this option will only apply when either the firm has sent its final position to the complainant or when eight weeks have elapsed since the firm received the complaint.
- Any complaint will be investigated competently, diligently and impartially, obtaining additional information as necessary.
- The complaint will be assessed fairly, consistently and promptly, giving due attention to the need to determine whether it should be upheld and what remedial action and/or redress may be appropriate.
- The complainant will be kept informed of the progress being made in the resolution of their complaint.
- The firm will comply promptly where any offer of remedial action or redress is accepted by the complainant.
- When communicating the firm’s position on the complaint to the client the complainant will be informed about their options, including, where an eligible complainant, that if dissatisfied then they may refer the complaint to the FOS. In this situation the communication will be accompanied by a copy of the FOS’s standard explanatory leaflet and confirmation of their website address.
- Where relevant, there are time limits after which the FOS cannot consider a complaint. The above communication to an eligible complainant will indicate whether the firm consents to waiving these time limits.
- Note that in line with the FCA Handbook (DISP 1.1A.23) an alternative approach is permitted where a complaint is resolved by close of the third business day following the day on which it was received.
Reporting and publication
The “complaints reporting rules” in the FCA Handbook require a twice-yearly report to be provided to the FCA concerning complaints received from eligible complainants. This requirement also applies to MiFID complaints, except that information must be included about such complaints received from retail clients, professional clients and, where relevant, eligible counterparties rather than just eligible complainants.