- About this Annual Review
- Year at a glance
- Acknowledgement of country
- Board Chair message
- Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman message
- Organisational overview
- AFCA Independent Review
- Who complained to AFCA?
- Overview of complaints
- Open cases
- Closed cases
- Banking and finance complaints
- Buy now pay later
- Financial difficulty complaints
- Small business complaints
- General insurance complaints
- Significant events
- Life insurance complaints
- Superannuation complaints
- Investments and advice complaints
- Complaints lodged by consumer advocates and financial counsellors
- Legacy complaints
- Complaints outside AFCA’s Rules
- Systemic issues
- Code compliance and monitoring
- Previous schemes
- Engagement, awareness and accessibility
- Corporate information
- AFCA General Purpose Financial Report 2021–22
- Appendix 1
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman message
I am proud to present this year’s Annual Review, which highlights all AFCA has achieved in 2021–22.
The challenges posed by natural disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing economic landscape have all required AFCA to respond and adapt quickly. We implemented a series of targeted efficiency initiatives designed to deliver the fastest pathway to resolution, and improve timeliness and customer experience for members, consumers and small businesses.
These initiatives include the development of specialist teams, strengthened workflow management and triage mechanisms. They also include the use of merit assessments earlier in our process, enhanced exception reporting, aged file prioritisation, key performance indicators for timeliness and enhanced communication to keep parties informed of progress on their complaints.
I am delighted to report that in addition to reducing the average time to resolve a complaint, we have also made significant progress resolving complaints older than 12 months, reducing these cases from 4% of all complaints at AFCA to just 2.4%. These improvements make a big difference to both consumers and our members by resolving complaints faster, and we are committed to continuing this work in 2023.
Over the next year, our new case handling system, customer portal and member portal will result in earlier resolution and an improved experience.
We want every interaction with AFCA to be a great interaction. Our aim is to be a leader in service excellence and provide unparalleled consumer, small business and member experiences.
When you call AFCA, you can expect to wait just 45 seconds on average to speak to one of our highly skilled people.
We answered 119,653 phone calls made to our dedicated consumer line, as well as 14,914 calls to our membership line and 8,005 calls to our COVID-19 support line this year. A sign of the growing need to offer multiple channels to contact us, we also answered more than 21,066 online live chat messages.
Overall customer satisfaction increased by 5%, taking it to 70%, and we aim to increase this again in the coming year.
Member satisfaction also saw a slight increase and reached 77% this year.
AFCA has a dedicated membership team that assists AFCA members with the management of their membership including applications, online assessments, annual forecasting and everyday membership enquiries.
This year, we implemented a series of membership service improvements, which has simplified membership renewal processes for our smaller members, many of which are small businesses.
We know it is the day-to-day experiences that are important to our members, and our focus in the coming year is to continue increasing the value we offer and make it easier to do business with AFCA, while focusing on our vision to help members reduce the issues giving rise to complaints and improve their practices.
AFCA plays a unique role in the financial services landscape, and developing strong and meaningful relationships with a broad range of stakeholders is critical to our ability to inform change and influence better practice.
As such, we follow a robust engagement program that includes sharing data and complaint insights through forums, liaison groups, one-on-one meetings, events, consultations, webinars, newsletters and social media.
Over the last 12 months, AFCA has released its updated Datacube, made a number of submissions to inquiries and consultations, and participated in industry and consumer forums.
Alongside the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) and insurers, we participated in 10 meetings for storm-impacted residents in Victoria, New South Wales and South-East Queensland. We recognised the importance of being able to provide face-to-face advice in badly impacted communities following natural disasters.
We continued our regular Consumer Advisory Panel (ACAP) and Consumer Advocate Liaison Meetings (CALM). These groups are made up of consumer leaders and representatives from advocacy, financial counselling and community legal services.
Similar meetings were held with members. These are known as industry liaison groups to discuss issues relating to members’ specific industries. Providing education to our members to improve practices and reduce complaints also continued this year.
AFCA held two virtual member forums, and 4,000 members attended each forum. The forums facilitate a two-way conversation with our members about complaint trends and issues, as well as the opportunity to understand how to apply this knowledge to their complaint handling practices, with the ultimate goal of minimising complaints.
In addition, we held seven webinars for members, including a session on RG271, which was co-hosted with ASIC.
I would like to thank all the stakeholders we worked with this year to fulfil our purpose to provide fair, independent and effective solutions for financial disputes, and a service that meets diverse community needs and is trusted by all.
This year, we identified and reported to regulators 67 definite systemic issues and 23 serious contraventions of the law. Our systemic work has secured refunds of $18,275,607 for 167,033 consumers and resulted in a range of regulatory enforcement action being taken.
Work on our Systemic Issues Transformation is well underway. This three-year strategic initiative will enhance our systemic issues function to become world-class leaders in the identification and investigation of systemic issues by using data and analytics for early detection and efficient investigation. This vital work is drawing on stakeholder feedback and the Independent Review recommendations to design a customer-focused and data-driven future state, around core purpose and operating principles.
Our culture story
In April, we launched our Culture Story, defining AFCA’s ‘People for Purpose’ culture. Understanding AFCA’s current culture and how we want to develop our culture, is critical to our aspirations of becoming a world-class ombudsman scheme.
Collectively, our people bring a wide range of skills and technical experiences, as well as diverse backgrounds and varied life experiences. This diversity of experience also brings diversity of thought. It enables us to offer a better service and reflect the community we serve.
Culture drives engagement, and I am particularly proud of the results of the AFCA staff engagement pulse survey in May 2022, which found that:
- 88.9% of employees are proud to work for AFCA
- 80.7% of employees think AFCA is a truly great place to work
- 81% of employees feel they belong at AFCA.
We want to harness this engagement and drive a culture that promotes effectiveness, efficiency and innovation. We want to ensure that our people have an understanding of what it might be like to walk in a consumer’s shoes. We want to empower our people go the extra mile to deliver human-centered and inclusive experiences to our complainants and members.
I am proud of AFCA’s culture, the people who work here and our shared commitment to serve the community. Over the coming year, we will work to promote our shared cultural values and embed them in everything we do.
Commitment to diversity and inclusion
AFCA is committed to providing a service that is accessible to everyone. We are particularly focused on ensuring vulnerable and disadvantaged people can readily use our service.
We already provide a wide range of ways to interact with us, along with additional support at no cost to the customer.
A key element of our commitment to ensure accessibility is our cross-functional Accessibility and Inclusion Network. This sees over 40 AFCA people driving innovations across the whole organisation to achieve continuous improvement over three priority areas: Reconciliation, Mental Health and Pride.
The Network is sponsored by AFCA’s Deputy Chief Ombudsman Dr June Smith and governed by a council of senior people who bring a strategic lens to initiatives and activities.
Network groups proactively identify ways to increase the accessibility of our service. In addition, they consider internal practices and initiatives that support our culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging.
In 2021–22, the Mental Health Group conducted over 50 in-depth interviews across AFCA to research and document the observations of our people working with customers who have experienced stress, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and a range of mental health conditions.
Insights from these focus interviews were integrated into a proactive plan of action to change and improve the way we work with each other and vulnerable members of the community.
AFCA’s Reconciliation Group was also formed in 2021 to create our first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), submitted to Reconciliation Australia in June 2022 to start the endorsement process.
Reflection is necessary for growth, and this work demonstrates the commitment all our people have towards creating an environment that supports greater economic and financial participation and inclusion for First Nations peoples.
We are embracing the RAP journey with open hearts and minds, and we recognise and will be guided by the knowledge, wisdom and longevity of First Nations’ cultures as we grow from this experience.
The Ally Network held several events that acknowledged important LGBTQIA+ milestones throughout the year, and members provided education opportunities for staff and answered LGBTQIA+ related questions.
Flexibility and equality
To reflect our culture and strengthen our commitment to flexibility and equality, this year we also introduced enhanced leave benefits for our staff.
The enhanced leave benefits include increased paid parental leave and superannuation payments for those who take leave. We removed traditional references to primary and secondary caregivers, and increased flexibility to take parental leave within a two-year period, as well as paid leave for early pregnancy loss and gender affirmation.
These changes support our ongoing commitment to flexible working and equality while improving staff retention and engagement.
I would like to thank AFCA’s Chair and Board for their diligent, wise and valued governance of AFCA.
Finally, I would like to thank all AFCA’s staff for their hard work and professionalism over the last year. Our service is delivered by our people, and it is your ongoing dedication to your work, your passion for fairness and your belief in access to justice that has ensured we can provide our vital service to the Australian community and financial industry during a challenging and ever-changing year.
I look forward to continuing our work in 2022–23.
Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman
“I am proud of AFCA’s culture, the people who work here and our shared commitment to serve the community.”