Oz Parliament approves creation of new financial complaints watchdog

The Australian Parliament has officially approved legislation to create a new body, to be known as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, that will accept and deal with complaints from consumers and small businesses about banks and other financial institutions – including superannuation funds.

The new financial complaints watchdog has been in the works for more than 20 months, and will begin accepting complaints “no later than 1 November 2018”, according to a statement issued today by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

“Higher monetary limits and compensation caps, including for primary production businesses, will give more consumers and small businesses access to a free and independent forum to resolve their complaints,” ASIC said in its statement.

It added that until the AFCA is fully up and running, “ASIC will retain direct oversight of the two ASIC-approved schemes – the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) – which will continue to provide high levels of service to consumers and firms”.

Separate arrangements will be put in place for the ongoing operation of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal in order that it is able to deal with its existing complaints workload, ASIC went on, and once up and running, the scheme “will be subject to ongoing oversight by ASIC”.

Peter Kell, deputy chair of ASIC, noted that the establishment of a single scheme for all financial services and superannuation complaints was “a very positive development” for Australia’s financial services industry, and that it would build on the groundwork already laid by the existing three consumer- and business-client focused schemes – the FOS, CIO and SCT.

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