The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has announced the appointment of Natalie Cameron as its new Lead Ombudsman for Banking and Finance.
Natalie was appointed after an extensive executive recruitment process and moves into the position from her current appointment as Lead Ombudsman for Investments and Advice at AFCA. She has been acting in the Banking and Finance role since January.
“Natalie brings to this role a wealth of experience in law, financial services and dispute resolution. She has already made an outstanding contribution as a Lead Ombudsman, both in Investments and Advice and as Acting Lead Ombudsman in Banking and Finance,” AFCA’s Chief Ombudsman and CEO, David Locke, said.
“Natalie has a passion for access to justice and delivering fair outcomes for both consumers and financial firms. She is a highly capable lawyer and she has an open and collaborative leadership style. She has already demonstrated that she can build strong relationships with both industry bodies and consumer organisations, and that she can make sound, impartial decisions without fear or favour.”
Lead Ombudsman for Banking and Finance is a key national role, with more than half of the 70,000-plus complaints AFCA registers each year coming from this sector, Mr Locke said. “Natalie will have the opportunity to influence practice by working with banks and financial institutions in areas such as financial difficulty and vulnerable customers,” he said.
Natalie Cameron said: “It is an honour to continue AFCA’s critical work helping consumers and financial firms to resolve disputes. Finding ways to bring fair and efficient resolution to disputes could not be more important in a changing banking and finance environment.
“As well as leading AFCA’s approach to complaints handling and decision-making in banking and finance, I look forward to ongoing engagement with the sector to help build on their positive work to prevent complaints arising.”
Natalie takes up the permanent appointment effective immediately.
Meanwhile, Shail Singh will continue as Acting Lead Ombudsman, Investments and Advice, for the coming 12 months, having taken on this role earlier this year, Deputy Chief Ombudsman Dr June Smith said.
“Shail will continue acting in this role in a year when we are likely to see the implementation of a compensation scheme of last resort and the outcomes of the Quality of Advice review.”
AFCA has five Lead Ombudsmen, in Banking and Finance, Investments and Advice, Insurance, Small Business and Superannuation. “Their leadership underpins our independent, fair and consistent approach to the resolution of complaints between consumers and financial firms,” Dr Smith said.
Natalie Cameron is a lawyer by profession and began her career with one of Australia’s leading law firms, Clayton Utz. She then joined the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, where she focused on regulatory policy and markets.
In 2005 she moved to AIA Australia, initially as a lawyer, then as General Counsel, before becoming Chief Operating Officer (COO) and then Chief Group Insurance Officer. For two years she was CEO of AIA New Zealand.
In 2017 she returned to Australia to join MLC Life as Chief Claims Officer, then COO, working across all parts of the business and with advisers, corporate and superannuation clients and regulators.
Natalie joined AFCA in June 2020 as Lead Ombudsman, Investments and Advice. She became acting Lead Ombudsman, Banking and Finance, in January 2022, before being appointed permanently to the role as of July 2022.