This page has information for representatives who are paid to assist consumers with making a complaint about a financial firm.
Paid representatives looking for information about their AFCA membership can visit the AFCA Member Portal.
Representatives and AFCA’s service
AFCA helps individuals and small businesses to sort out disagreements with their financial firm. We understand many complainants experience stress and, in some cases, financial strain, so our service is free and easy to access, without the need for representation.
However, complainants sometimes prefer to have a representative help with their complaint, particularly when they need additional support due to illness, financial strain, or a disability. A representative can be a family member, friend, lawyer, financial counsellor, or someone who offers to represent them for a fee – we call this last group paid representatives.
About paid representatives
A paid representative is any person or business that is paid to represent and assist a complainant, but does not include accountants, lawyers, financial counsellors or other representatives who have professional bodies to monitor their conduct.
Paid representatives can include, but are not limited to:
- Debt management firms (DMF) – which are firms who assist complainants with issues about consumer credit contracts for a fee or who charge an amount that is payable in relation to a service. These firms are now regulated and must hold an Australian credit license and be members of AFCA (ASIC Info 254).
- Insurance claims handling firms – representatives who provide claims handling and settling services about insurance products. These firms must hold an Australian credit license and be members of AFCA (ASIC Info 253).
- Any other entity who charges a fee to assist a consumer to lodge a complaint at AFCA.
Expectations of paid representatives
AFCA expects paid representatives to conduct themselves at a higher standard than non-fee charging representatives. Under the AFCA Engagement Charter, all representatives, including paid representatives, are expected to:
- act in the best interests of the complainant and avoid conflicts of interest
- act fairly and professionally towards AFCA and financial firms
- avoid lodging complaints that are frivolous, vexatious or without merit
- support the reasonable negotiation of complaints, including ensuring that complainants attend AFCA telephone conciliation conferences
- provide all relevant documentation that could reasonably be expected upon initial lodgement of a complaint, including confirmation that the complainant is aware the complaint has been lodged at AFCA and authorises the representative to act on their behalf
- co-operate with our investigations including facilitating provision and exchange of information and evidence actively participate in the complaint resolution process and avoid unnecessary delays.
AFCA also expects paid representatives to only make a complaint with AFCA after they have gone through the IDR process. If the paid representative is unable to resolve the issue with the financial firm directly, they can then make a complaint with AFCA.
If our expectations are not met, or the conduct impacts the delivery of fair outcomes, it may be appropriate for AFCA to refuse to consider the complaint further under AFCA Rule C.2.2(g).
As paid representatives are not a requirement to access our services, the fee/s paid to the representative will not be awarded as part of any compensation provided in the outcome of a complaint.
Being appointed as a complainant's representative
A complainant may appoint a paid representative at the time they make a complaint, or at any point during the dispute resolution process.
If a paid representative is lodging a complaint on a complainants behalf, the complainant and the paid representative must complete the Agent Authority form and submit to AFCA at the time the complaint is lodged with AFCA or at the conclusion of the IDR referral process.
AFCA will only discuss a complaint with a paid representative once a complainant consents, or as required by law, in order to protect their privacy.
Providing information to AFCA
AFCA has created a guide for paid representatives about the information we expect to receive when a complaint is lodged with AFCA, depending on the product and issue.