Frequently asked questions about the funding model

General

Why did AFCA change its funding model?

AFCA’s previous funding model was a legacy of three funding models of the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO), the Financial Ombudsman Service, (FOS) and the APRA levy model (superannuation trustees).  

This interim funding model was only ever intended to apply for the first three years of AFCA’s operations (2018 – 2021) while AFCA established an evidence base of complaint volumes and complexity in an expanded jurisdiction.  

While AFCA's interim funding model and fee structure served the scheme well during our establishment phase, we believed there were improvements that could be made to make a fairer, more equitable model. 

When will the new funding model apply?

The new funding model will apply from 1 July 2022.  The updated complaint fee schedule will apply to complaints closed from 1 July 2022 regardless of when they were received.

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About the consultation

About the funding model consultation

When did the consultation take place? 

The consultation period ran from 10 March to 22 April 2022. 

Did AFCA make changes to the model following the consultation?  

Like any consultation, AFCA took member and industry feedback into account. A summary of the consultation findings and feedback, and changes to the proposed model can be found on the Funding Model Consultation Report page.

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Creating the model

How was it designed?  

AFCA engaged PWC to review and develop a new funding model. The design of AFCA’s new funding model was guided by five key pillars of considerations:  

  • Efficiency
  • Member-focused  
  • Fairness  
  • Modern  
  • Capability  

These were informed by:   

  • The Ramsay Review of the Financial System EDR and Complaints Framework  
  • Treasury Independent Review of AFCA  
  • Review undertaken of other jurisdictions (UK, Canada, NZ)  
  • Design principles developed by the AFCA Board.   

How did the previous funding model work?  

AFCA’s previous funding model was a mix of fixed revenue through a Membership Levy a Superannuation Levy, a User Charge and variable revenue through complaint fees (invoiced on closure of a complaint).  

  • The Membership Levy was a tiered fee that was calculated through a ‘member profile’, a weighted scoring of firms’ characteristics multiplied by a fixed percentage amount. ​This required members to fill out an annual self-assessment survey.  
  • The Superannuation Levy was also calculated using a process based on super funds’ characteristics. ​  
  • The User Charge was calculated based on a pre-determined total amount that was divided amongst members based on each member’s volume of complaint fees and where they closed in the process, for those members with more than one complaint in the previous year. ​  
  • Complaint fees were charged based on the complaint fee schedule, for each complaint. They were invoiced when a complaint closed.

What are the main changes?  

Funding model comparison table
Click here to view the full sized image

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Fees and charges

What is the new Annual registration fee?  

The annual Member Levy has been replaced by a simplified annual registration fee. All financial firm members pay a $375.55 flat fee, while Authorised Credit Representative (ACR) members pay their $65.98 annual registration fee.  

Complaint fee schedule – what has changed?  

A renewed complaint fee schedule consolidates the fee structure to reduce complexities and encourage early resolution of complaints.

To see the fee structure, please login to the Member Portal (Secure Services)

If a matter resolves while waiting allocation what fee is charged?

Scenario

Closed status

Why?

Registration and referral not resolved – progress to case management and resolves in workflow.

Closed Case Management

Because no jurisdictional issues were considered and the matter was not resolved in the registration and referral period.

Member requests rules review – progresses to rules review. Rules determine it is within jurisdiction and progresses to case management. Matter resolves while waiting allocation in workflow. 

Closed Case Management Because Rules assessed the matter was within jurisdiction. When the member requested Rules assess the matter, it waived the remainder of the registration period.

Resolved by member in registration and referral period.

Closed Registration

Member resolved within the timeframe.

Member requests complaint to progress to case management, waives registration period however it resolves in the workflow before it is allocated.

Closed Case Management

The member has requested it to progress and accordingly waived the remainder of the registration period.
Member resolves while complaint is awaiting rules review and matter would have been within or not clearly outside of jurisdiction.  Closed Registration and Referral Matter resolved but was not clearly outside of jurisdiction and within registration and referral timeframes.
Member resolves while complaint is awaiting rules review and matter would have clearly not been within jurisdiction.  Closed Rules Review If a matter is clearly not within jurisdiction, then it is appropriate for the matter to close at Rules Review. However if there is doubt about jurisdiction, the matter will be Closed Registration and Referral as above.

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Five free complaints

How does the free complaint scheme work?

The free complaint scheme means that the first five (5) complaints closed in each financial year are not charged. For the sixth complaint closed, the member is charged the stated amount in the complaint fee schedule for that complaint and will also be included in the user charge calculations for their sixth complaint onwards.   

Do I have to apply for the five free complaints?  

No, they will be automatically applied, and it will show on the relevant invoice with no charge against it.    

How can I find out how many complaints have been lodged against my firm in total?   

​Members will be able to use the Member Portal to see how many complaints have been lodged against them.  

If I receive more than the number of free complaints each year, can I transfer the most costly complaints to be included in the five free complaints?   

No, members cannot transfer their most costly complaints. The free complaint scheme applies for the first five complaints closed in a financial year (from 1 July each year). AFCA will automatically reduce the cost of these complaints to zero.

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Unmeritorious complaints and AFCA Rule A.8.3

How will AFCA reduce the number of unmeritorious complaints progressing through the EDR process? 

Following the success of a pilot program in 2021, AFCA introduced appropriate measures under AFCA Rule A.8.3 to ensure members are not negatively impacted by unmeritorious complaints.  

Read more about these measures here

How will Rule A.8.3 apply to the new funding model? 

Where AFCA makes a merit assessment under Rule A8.3, complaints will be closed at Case Management. This means these complaints will incur a Case Management fee.   

Assessments under A8.3 are not part of the rules/jurisdictional review process, as these complaints are assessed at Case Management by an AFCA case worker and are generally within AFCA’s jurisdiction.  

Why is the Case Management merit assessment not conducted by the Rules Team before Case Management? 

AFCA's Rules Team focuses on whether a complaint falls outside of AFCA’s jurisdiction as set out in the Rules and Operational Guidelines to the Rules. Rule A.8.3 allows AFCA to decline to consider a complaint that is within its jurisdiction, where appropriate. When a complaint is within AFCA’s jurisdiction, the Rules Team progresses the complaint to Case Management, where an AFCA case worker with the relevant expertise can consider whether to decline the complaint further under Rules A.8.3. 

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User-charge

Is the user-charge a double charge? If a complaint is opened in one year and not closed until the next? 

No. The user-charge is calculated based on closed complaints. If a complaint is open across multiple years, it will only contribute to the user charge associated with the year it closed. 

When will I be invoiced for the user-charge?  

Following the funding model consultation, AFCA introduced the option for progressive invoicing for members with a user charge over a certain threshold. 

Members with a user charge of over $25,000 will be automatically invoiced monthly, however, these members can opt to receive their user charge invoices quarterly, bi-annually or annually.

To reduce the administrative burden on members and AFCA, members with an annual user charge below the $25,000 threshold will receive a single invoice at the start of the financial year.

Superannuation levy: How will the transition from the superannuation levy to a user-pays system be managed, if a complaint was registered in 2021-22 but is not resolved until 2022-23? Will I end up paying twice for such a complaint?

Prior to 1 July 2022, superannuation fund members of AFCA paid the superannuation levy. The new funding model abolished the levy and replaced it with the new user-pays structure for all financial firm members.

The superannuation levy was not attributed to, or related to, complaint closures in any way. It was a levy that was paid by superannuation trustees to access AFCA’s services for a given year and was based on assets under management.

Cases closed after 1 July 2022 therefore are not covered by the levy for the previous year. They will be paid for under the funding structure applicable at the time – which is the new funding structure.

Under the new funding model, replacing the levy with a truly user-pays structure ensures that members with low or no complaints see a significant reduction in what they pay, while heavy users contribute accordingly.

If the new funding model were not to be implemented, superannuation trustee members would have to pay a new levy at the start of the financial year. In that case, trustees paying the levy according to their size but with low complaint volumes would continue to subsidise other members. 

Overall, 82 per cent of super trustee members will see a reduction in their total cost, under the new model, with one in four paying only the annual registration fee.

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Authorised Credit Representatives

Why is AFCA charging ACR’s still when the Independent Review recommended they not be members?  

ACR’s will be charged an annual registration fee of $65.98 as there is still a legislative requirement that they be members of an EDR scheme.  AFCA cannot remove ACRs until legislation passes. On this basis, the funding model is designed to apply to all members of AFCA without exception.

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