The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has recruited three new Ombudsmen from the banking and insurance sectors, and promoted three others internally, as it starts another busy year of complaints handling.
Louise McAuliffe will join from ANZ and James Taylor from Westpac as Ombudsmen in the Banking and Finance team at AFCA. David Short will join as an Ombudsman in its Insurance team, coming from business insurance service provider BizCover.
McAuliffe is currently Head of Legal, Dispute Resolution Group, for ANZ, Taylor is Practice Leader, Business Lending Legal, at Westpac, and Short is Head of Legal, Risk and Compliance at BizCover.
“It’s terrific that we have been able to secure such skilled and experienced people,” Deputy Chief Ombudsman June Smith said of the external appointments. “Our internal promotions are also testament to the strength of talent already here at AFCA.”
Internally, AFCA has promoted Vicki Carter and Mervyn Silverstein to Ombudsman within the Superannuation team, and Qasim Gilani to Ombudsman in Insurance. Shail Singh has been reappointed as an Ombudsman in Investments and Advice, and Christine McCarthy as an Ombudsman in Insurance. Daniel King has been promoted to an Adjudicator role in Insurance.
The appointments follow the naming of two new Lead Ombudsmen, for Insurance and for Small Business, with Emma Curtis due to join from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Suanne Russell from Westpac in early August. At that point all AFCA’s Lead Ombudsmen will be women.
AFCA, which is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, has about 100 ombudsmen, adjudicators and panel members. AFCA issued over 5,000 decisions last year.
AFCA received about 70,000 complaints in 2020-21 and expects to handle at least that number again in the coming year. Many complaints are resolved in the early stages of its process, with more complex matters reaching the organisation’s decision makers.
David Short will join AFCA in its Sydney office at the end of August, with James Taylor following in September. Louise McAuliffe will join the Melbourne office in September.
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Louise McAuliffe has extensive experience as a banking and finance lawyer and has held senior roles in corporate and private practice, including at partner level. She is currently Head of Legal, Dispute Resolution Group at ANZ. Louise began her career in private practice with Corrs Chambers Westgarth before moving to DLA Piper (formerly Phillips Fox), where she became a partner. She has worked in the ANZ legal team for the past 14 years, progressing to her current role in 2015. She was closely involved in ANZ’s response to the Hayne Royal Commission.
James Taylor is currently employed as Practice Leader, Business Lending Legal, at Westpac, where he leads a team of 11 lawyers providing legal support for all project, policy, commercial and transactional aspects of Westpac’s Business Bank. Before joining Westpac in 2017, he was Head Counsel, Country Banking Legal, at Rabobank. He has worked as a corporate and commercial lawyer in private practice in Australia and Canada and spent a year as a Legal Officer with the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva.
David Short is currently Head of Legal, Risk and Compliance at BizCover. He has over 25 years’ experience across insurance, both in-house as general counsel at Chubb Insurance and in private practice as a partner at Ebsworth and Ebsworth, Hall and Wilcox and Meridian Lawyers. He has been listed in Best Lawyers for Insurance Law in Australia. With BizCover, he has been part of the executive committee of a growing company, and at a time when it built out its complaint management.
Published: 28 July 2021
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The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent help with financial disputes. It is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, over things such as banking, credit, insurance, advice, investments or superannuation. Where an agreement cannot be reached between parties, AFCA can issue decisions that are binding on financial firms.