The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) today announced the appointment of the former chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre, Gerard Brody, to its independent board. His appointment is for three years, effective 4 May 2023.
“Mr Brody brings to the board his policy, regulatory, legal and consumer experience,” AFCA’s Independent Chair, Professor John Pollaers OAM, said. “He has a thorough understanding of the contemporary challenges facing consumers and firms.”
The AFCA Board is made up of an independent and expert group of directors with extensive financial services industry and consumer experience. Its eight directors, led by an independent Chair, bring together a breadth of knowledge across the multi-dimensional and highly complex industries AFCA covers: banking and finance, insurance, investments and advice, and superannuation.
AFCA provides free, fair and independent help with financial disputes for consumers and small businesses and their financial firms. AFCA’s external dispute resolution scheme is on track to register about 100,000 complaints this financial year and has secured $1 billion for complainants since inception in November 2018.
“The Board is committed to ensuring that AFCA continues be an effective external dispute resolution scheme for financial services, with a focus on efficiency, customer service and providing clear member and community value,” Professor Pollaers said. “Mr Brody’s broad experience will be invaluable as AFCA delivers against these goals.”
Mr Brody has worked as a lawyer, policy officer and consumer advocate for 20 years. He was the CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre, a leading consumer advocacy organisation that provides legal assistance and financial counselling, for 10 years until February 2023.
He is also an experienced director. He has been on the board of the Energy & Water Ombudsman Victoria since 2014, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman since 2022, and Community Legal Centres Australia, the peak body for community legal centres, since 2021. In addition, he is the Chair of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia, the peak body for consumer organisations in Australia.
Mr Brody said: “Dispute services like AFCA are critical to consumer protection in Australia. Not only do they help resolve complaints quickly and fairly but they also look to improve the marketplace for everyone by raising standards and improving internal practices to avoid disputes in the first place.
“I’m excited about contributing to AFCA and its vision of being a trusted and world-class ombudsman service that meets the needs of our diverse community.”
Mr Brody will replace Elissa Freeman, who served on the predecessor Financial Ombudsman Service’s board and then the inaugural AFCA board for a total of about nine years.
“As a founding board member, Elissa played an important role in the creation of AFCA,” Professor Pollaers said. “We thank Elissa for her commitment to the work of FOS and for her stewardship as AFCA created a new, world-class dispute resolution service.”
AFCA replaced FOS, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal in November 2018.
The AFCA Board extended the current term of Jennifer Darbyshire, also a founding board member, who has extensive senior executive experience in governance, law and risk across a range of sectors and in a variety of roles and organisations, including most recently the National Australia Bank.
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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