Australia's ASIC looks to improve complaints handling

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Australia's ASIC looks to improve complaints handling

ASIC has initiated public consultation on the creation of new standards for financial firms handling consumer and small business complaints.

The Australian financial sector regulator is looking to improve its complaints handling following a string of financial scandals in the country over the past two years, many involving the so-called Big Four banks. As part of this reform, ASIC is proposing mandatory data reporting and making firms' complaints handling performance transparent.

ASIC said financial firms should view internal dispute resolution as an opportunity to resolve the issue before it is considered for filing to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Increased transparency is good news. We also welcome the idea of requiring firms to provide a standard set of data"

Emphasis on transparency
David Locke, AFCA chief ombudsman and chief executive, said: "Increased transparency is good news. We also welcome the idea of requiring firms to provide a standard set of data - this will help companies know how they compare to their competitors and help to inform consumers about the companies they're dealing with." 

Locke added, "In this digital age, the move by ASIC to require firms to include complaints made on social media platforms, is entirely appropriate."

ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester commented: "It is widely acknowledged there is room for much improvement when it comes to handling consumer complaints in our financial system.

"The Ramsay Panel Review, recent ASIC research, case studies before the Financial Services Royal Commission and our own supervisory work have all identified shortcomings in consumer complaints handling."

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.