BY TAONGA SABOLA:
Complaints against financial market players jumped by 88 percent in 2017 to hit 361, figures from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) show.
This is compared to a total of 192 cases the registrar of financial institutions recorded in 2016.
The development could mean that more customers continue to be satisfied with the level of customer service offered by the financial market.
In its Financial Institutions Supervision Report for 2017, released on Wednesday, RBM says it handled 392 complaints, including 31 that were brought forward from 2016.
RBM says about 71 percent  of the complaints were successfully resolved compared to 75 percent in 2016.
In terms of compositions, the insurance sector registered the larges t number of complaints at 139, followed by microfinance and banking sectors both at 78, pension at 68, and capital markets sector which registered only two complaints.
“The Registrar resolved 278 of the complaints in the period under review, representing 71 percent of the complaints handled. Of this total, 133 were related to poor customer care; 55 due to financial abuse, and 54 cases due to lack of financial awareness and capability on the part of consumers.
“As at December 2017, 33 complaints were still under investigation. The root causes of complaints in the financial sector remained poor customer care, financial abuse, lack of financial consumers’ awareness and misunderstanding,” the report says.
The central bank has attributed the jump in the number of complaints handled to the intensification of awareness programmes on complaints handling procedures.
“The Registrar continued to undertake various financial literacy initiatives aimed at bolstering financial consumer awareness.
“In addition, market conduct examinations of diverse categories of financial institutions were carried out with the objective of establishing the extent of compliance with market conduct regulatory expectations,” RBM says.
Delivering a keynote address at the 2016 Bankers Association of Malawi (Bam) annual dinner and dance, former Nico Holdings chief executive officer, Felix Mlusu, observed that the quality of customer service in most commercial banks leaves a lot to be desired.
Mlusu said failure by the banks to meet the needs of individual customers has resulted in the sprouting of parallel structures such as village banks.
Mlusu said poor customer service has often resulted in long queues in the banking halls.
Both Bam and Insurance Association of Malawi presidents, Paul Guta and Grant Mwenechanya, respectively, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
But Mwenechanya recently indicated that issues of customer care are a responsibility of individual firms.