The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority has revealed that it received more than 6,500 complaints from SMEs and consumers in just its first month of operation.
Known under its acronym AFCA, the new authority combined and replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service as well as the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal as a “one-stop shop for financial dispute resolution”.
It officially began operating on 1 November 2018 and offers an industry-funded dispute resolution service that is free to access for small businesses and consumers.
During its first month, AFCA said that it had received more than 13,000 phone enquiries and 6,522 formal complaints about various financial services and products — a volume it said was “on par” with initial expectations.
That equates to an average of 310 for every business day during the month.
While the majority of disputes lodged were from individual consumers, AFCA said that 460 small businesses had also formally submitted complaints.
“We want to make sure that members of the public know where to go for help when they have a financial complaint they can’t resolve directly with their financial firm,” AFCA’s CEO and chief ombudsman, David Locke, said.
“AFCA provides quick and easy access to fair resolutions. This is part of our role in rebuilding trust in the financial services sector. In fact, while we have only been operating for a month, 15 per cent of the complaints we received in the month of November have already been finalised.”
Banks were the most complained about type of financial service provider, accounting for 2,367 of those complaints received. That was followed by 1,159 grievances raised about general insurers and 1,040 about credit providers.
Credit was easily the most complained about issue, accounting for almost half (45 per cent) of the total gripes raised. General insurance accounted for a further 21 per cent of disputes, followed by 10 per cent relating to deposit-taking and 8 per cent about superannuation.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.