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$185m in payouts as finance complaints surge

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
04 November 2019 1 minute readShare

Australians – including SMEs – have lodged over 73,000 complaints about banks and other financial service providers over the past year, with millions paid out in compensation.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) revealed that it has awarded $185 million in compensation, after it received a total of 73,272 complaints from Australians – up 40 per cent on the equivalent received a year earlier by the Financial Ombudsman Service and other dispute resolution bodies merged to create AFCA in November 2018.

Of these, 3,869 were from small businesses.

However, as lead ombudsman for small business Geoff Browne previously flagged, that number is likely to be far higher, given that many complaints come through as individuals but the underlying problem relates to a business issue.

Mr Browne told My Business in September that “it could be anything up to double” the volume of complaints actually relating to a business.

Of the nearly 4,000 disputes that were prescribed as being from a small business, the majority involved allegations of misleading product or service information.

In addition to individual matters raised, AFCA said that it currently has 50 systemic under active review, and that it has identified 30 instances of “potential serious contraventions and other breaches” of rules governing the sector.

What do most disputes relate to?

According to AFCA’s breakdowns of all the disputes it has received in the year to October 2019, 25,826 (or 35 per cent) involve banks.

General insurers attracted 14,139 (19 per cent) of complaints. Rounding out the top five most complained about sectors were:

  • credit providers, with 10,327 complaints (14 per cent)
  • super fund trustees of advisers, with 2,999 complaints (4 per cent)
  • debt collectors or buyers, with 2,902 complaints (4 per cent)

What are the root causes of these disputes?

AFCA revealed in its 12-month snapshot that the most contentious issues in each area of financial services are as follows:

  • credit – credit reporting
  • general insurance – the claim amount, followed very closely by delays in handling a claim
  • deposit-taking – unauthorised transactions
  • superannuation – incorrect fees and costs
  • payment systems – unauthorised transactions
  • investments – failure to follow instructions/agreements
  • life insurance – denial of a claim
$185m in payouts as finance complaints surge
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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