Updated: 25 November 2021

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) welcomes the release today of the report of the Independent Review into its financial dispute resolution service. AFCA agrees in principle with the report’s 14 recommendations.

“Overall, this is a very positive report card, particularly for an organisation barely three years old,” Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer David Locke said.

“We welcome the report’s endorsement that we are delivering a fair, independent, efficient and effective complaints resolution service. The comments on our performance, including from the former Federal Court judge brought in as an independent expert, are highly encouraging.

“We were also pleased to read the Government’s response to the findings of the Review, which supports the recommendations and notes that AFCA is performing well and providing an effective dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses.”

The report says, “AFCA is performing well in a difficult operating environment and a changing regulatory landscape”. It reaffirms AFCA’s impartiality and its fairness jurisdiction, acknowledging that this approach underpins the body’s “critical” role as an efficient alternative to a tribunal or court for consumers, small businesses and financial firms. The report says it “did not find evidence to support a view that there are systemic issues with the independence of AFCA’s operations”.

The Review, conducted by Federal Treasury, was a requirement of the legislation that established AFCA. The report was delivered to the Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy, and Minister for Women’s Economic Security, Senator Jane Hume.

Mr Locke said AFCA was committed to continuously improving its complaints resolution scheme for all participants and the report would aid this work.

“We know there are areas where we can improve as we move out of our establishment phase, and some of these have been identified in the Review,” he said.

“We have a number of important projects under way, including investments in technology and process improvement, along with a review that is looking at ways to modernise our interim funding arrangements. We will use the insights and analysis from the Review to further inform this work.”

In its first two years, AFCA received more than 152,000 complaints, the report notes. The average time to resolve those complaints was 74 days, which the report says compares favourably with the performance of its UK counterpart and AFCA’s predecessor schemes.

The AFCA Board, which has equal representation of consumers and financial firm representatives and an independent Chair, will examine the report in detail.

Mr. Locke said that, as always, AFCA would consider any potential impacts on the costs for industry and the timely resolution of complaints when implementing the recommendations.

“AFCA will continue to engage with government, regulators, industry and consumers to ensure we are doing all we can to deliver fair outcomes in the most cost-effective, efficient and transparent way for all participants,” he said.

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Further information

Media enquiries: media@afca.org.au or 0466 929 659.

About AFCA

  • The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is a non-government ombudsman service providing free, fair and independent help with financial disputes.
  • AFCA 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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