The Australian Financial Complaints Authority's (AFCA’s) establishment in November 2018 was a significant overhaul of the Australian financial services dispute resolution framework. This review has provided an opportunity to seek feedback on AFCA’s operation in its establishment phase, and to consider whether changes can be made to ensure the scheme is appropriately calibrated and operating effectively within the existing framework, rather than reopening AFCA’s fundamental settings.
The review has considered submissions received from current and former complainants, financial firms, consumer advocacy organisations, industry bodies and others, as well as detailed data on AFCA’s operations. The review has also benefited from an independent expert assessment of selected case studies.
The overall finding of the review is that AFCA is performing well in a difficult operating environment and a changing regulatory landscape. It has successfully brought together the three predecessor schemes – the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) – to produce an effective dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses. While this is an endorsement of its performance in its establishment phase, AFCA will need to continue to develop and improve its processes as it consolidates its place in the financial system.
The review makes 14 recommendations in total. Most of the recommendations focus on enhancements to AFCA’s transparency towards parties to a complaint, and improvements to decision making processes.