2020–21 Annual Review

Complaints closed by AFCA

AFCA resolved a total of 73,928 complaints between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021.

Half of the complaints were closed at Registration and Referral, the first step in the resolution process where the complaint is referred to the financial firm to resolve. AFCA was pleased to see financial firms engaging actively in the resolution process and working with complainants to resolve complaints quickly.

Complaints that were unable to be resolved at Registration and Referral were progressed to Case Management or Rules, where 35% of complaints were resolved.

The remaining complaints were resolved through Preliminary Assessment (7%) and Decision (7%).

Of the complaints, 72% were resolved by agreement between the parties, or in favour of complainants.

It took, on average, 88 days to resolve a complaint. Twenty-seven per cent of complaints were resolved within 30 days of AFCA receiving them. With almost the same amount again (29%) being resolved between 31 and 60 days.

More complex cases that took 61 to 180 days to resolve made up 34% of closed complaints. The remaining 10% of closed complaints took more than 180 days to resolve.

In addition to these complaints, AFCA also closed three FOS complaints and 14 CIO complaints that were transferred to AFCA.

The 17 complaints transferred from predecessor schemes, FOS and CIO, and resolved during this financial year were longstanding and complex matters. Complaints lodged with FOS were resolved by AFCA under the FOS terms of reference, and complaints lodged with CIO were resolved by AFCA under the CIO Rules.

Further information about complaints that were lodged with FOS and CIO and closed in 2020–21 is available, see Previous schemes.


AFCA will generally try to first resolve a complaint by informal methods, such as negotiation or conciliation.

However, if we make a formal decision, there are a number of outcomes – also called ‘remedies’ – that we can provide under our Rules.

We may decide that a financial firm or complainant must undertake a course of action to resolve a complaint. We will only provide a remedy if we decide that a financial firm has breached its obligations to a complainant and this has caused loss or harm.

Some of the remedies we can award have financial value and others do not. We can’t impose punitive, exemplary or aggravated damages.

When deciding on the remedy, as far as we can, we seek to either:

  • place a complainant in the position they would have been in, if it had not been for the conduct of the financial firm; or
  • compensate the complainant for their loss, to the extent AFCA holds the financial firm responsible for the loss.

Between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021

Complaints resolved by agreement or in favour of complainant
Resolved by financial firm 38,716   2
Assessment 507    
Negotiation 10,744    
Conciliation 1,004    
Preliminary Assessment in favour of complainant 880    
Determination in favour of complainant 1,092 2 8
Preliminary Assessment: trustee decision substituted 1    
Preliminary Assessment: trustee decision varied 2    
Determination: trustee decision remitted 10    
Determination: trustee decision substituted 47    
Determination: trustee decision varied 3    
Total 53,006 2 10
Other outcomes
Outside Rules or Terms of Reference 6,786    
Discontinued by complainant 1 8,203   2
Decision in favour of financial firm 3,397 1 2
Preliminary Assessment in favour of financial firm 2,050    
Preliminary Assessment: trustee decision affirmed 18    
Determination: trustee decision affirmed 468    
Total 20,922 1 4
Grand total 73,928 3 14


1 These complaints were discontinued because the complainant requested that the complaint be withdrawn, or the complainant did not respond to us.

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