Updated: 27 October 2023

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s (AFCA) Board of Directors today announced the re-appointment of David Locke as Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer for a second five-year term.

Separately, the financial services ombudsman reported that its complaints resolution scheme had now secured $1 billion in compensation for consumers since opening its doors on 1 November 2018.

“As AFCA’s inaugural Chief Ombudsman, David has met the challenge of bringing together three separate dispute resolution bodies to build a new, world-class scheme,” AFCA Board Chair Professor John Pollaers OAM said.

“He has also led the organisation through a period of significant growth in complaints as a result of the COVID pandemic, natural disasters and scams.”

AFCA’s predecessor schemes, the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, together accounted for just over 52,000 complaints in their last full year, 2017-18. This financial year AFCA is on track to receive close to 100,000 complaints.

Professor Pollaers said that, in the face of such challenges, the ombudsman service had received a positive report card from the 2021 Independent Review of AFCA, which found it was “performing well” in a difficult environment.

Mr Locke had overseen significant initiatives such as the development of the publicly searchable AFCA Datacube, which allows firms and consumers to compare complaints performance; a new funding model welcomed for its fair, user-pays approach; a significant review of the AFCA Rules now under way; and an ongoing IT transformation to ensure an efficient and user-friendly experience for firms and consumers.

“AFCA provides a vital service,” Professor Pollaers said. “Consumers, small businesses and financial firms can participate in the financial system with confidence that a robust process is in place in the event of a dispute. The Board is delighted that David has accepted our invitation to continue to lead this important work.”

Mr Locke, who will begin his new term on 28 June 2023, said he was honoured to be reappointed Chief Ombudsman. “AFCA plays a very important role in Australia’s financial services system, and it is a great privilege to lead such an amazing group of people who are passionate about access to justice and fairness to all.

“We expect to register close to 100,000 complaints this financial year, up from 70,000 complaints just a year ago. AFCA’s services have, sadly, never been more needed. We will continue to work in partnership with financial firms, consumer bodies, and regulators to share lessons from our work and drive improved practices. We want to see financial firms resolve more disputes themselves, so fewer matters have to be escalated to AFCA.”

AFCA also announced today a significant milestone, with the amount of compensation and refunds secured for consumers now topping $1 billion. As of 30 March, it had resolved more than 320,000 complaints since opening its doors. 

In that time AFCA has also identified and resolved 236 systemic issues – issues with wider implications beyond an individual complaint – resulting in refunds to 4.7 million consumers totalling more than $278 million.

Since inception, AFCA has

  • Closed more than 320,000 complaints
  • Secured more than $1 billion in compensation for consumers
  • Seen about 70% of cases resolved by agreement 
  • Worked with more than 26,000 people in financial difficulty 
  • Worked with more than 5,000 victims of about 50 weather disasters
  • Handled more than 17,000 Covid-related complaints

Bio – David Locke is the Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of AFCA. He is a lawyer who has worked in the private, government and not-for-profit sectors, including 10 years in community legal centres in London and a similar period at the Charity Commission of England and Wales. David moved to Australia in 2011 to help establish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC). He was appointed as AFCA’s inaugural CEO and Chief Ombudsman in June 2018.


Published: 13 April 2023


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About AFCA

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.

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