New Australian financial dispute resolution body AFCA opens for business

Maria Nikolova

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is open and ready to take complaints from consumers and small businesses.

The new single financial dispute resolution body opens for business today. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is now ready to take complaints from consumers and small businesses.

The website of AFCA, which (I have to admit) looked pretty messy and generic in the past, is now redesigned and welcomes visitors.

If any consumers or small businesses have an unresolved complaint about a financial product or service they can contact AFCA for free. AFCA will then independently investigate the complaint. Consumers and small businesses can make a complaint online at afca.org.au, at [email protected] or by Freephone 1800 931 678.

AFCA will work with complainants and financial firms to reach fair outcomes, with a focus on delivering accessible services to meet diverse community needs, and a commitment to independent and impartial decision making.

Launching AFCA today, independent Chair, the Hon. Helen Coonan says, “AFCA will play an important role in restoring trust in Australia’s financial institutions in the wake of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

“We will influence reform in the financial services sector by raising standards and improving internal practices to reduce and resolve disputes.”

AFCA Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman, David Locke added, “AFCA will provide Australians with services that are easy to use, free and efficient. We will use a range of skills including conciliation and negotiation to find fair solutions for all the parties. Where matters cannot be settled then we will make timely and impartial determinations based upon the evidence. Any determinations of AFCA, if accepted by the consumer or small business, is binding on the financial services firm involved.”

The new body has taking over from the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

Financial firms including AFS licensees that provide financial services to retail clients, credit licensees, most credit representatives, superannuation trustees and unlicensed product issuers are required by law to join AFCA. Some other firms operating under a licensing exemption may also be required to join the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), including firms operating in the regulatory sandbox. The firms should have done so by September 21, 2018.

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