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ADR: Increasing transparency in financial sector

ADR: Increasing transparency in financial sector

By Chris Liamos

Practice & Procedure 

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AFCA can accept complaints about the conduct of financial firms dating back to 1 January 2008.

Snapshot
  • AFCA has received more than 60,000 complaints with more than 73 per cent resolved. More than $144 million in compensation has been received by complainants in this time.
  • AFCA’s key activities include a Fairness Project, naming financial firms in determinations and handling complaints about the financial firm’s conduct dating back to 1 January 2008.
  • AFCA is focused on raising awareness. This includes an upcoming roadshow, hosting industry forums and a range of other engagement activities.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is an independent external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme that began operation on 1 November 2018. AFCA deals with complaints from consumers and small businesses in the financial system. 

AFCA replaced the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT). This means consumers and small businesses will have access to a single free EDR scheme to complain about financial services or products.

In its first 10 months, AFCA has received more than 60,000 complaints. From this:

  • 73 per cent of complaints were resolved
  • more than $144 million in compensation was received by complainants.

About 59 per cent of these disputes involved banking and finance products. The second largest product was general insurance (23 per cent) followed by superannuation (9 per cent). 

The top three most common issues were credit reporting, responsible lending and delays in claims handling.1

AFCA’s key activities

AFCA is currently working on a fairness project. The purpose is to map community expectations and produce a set of criteria for fairness that is easily understood. This is still being developed and we are engaged with various stakeholders to assist in this endeavour.

From 1 October, AFCA began naming financial firms in its published determinations. This is to increase transparency in the financial sector. This followed a proposed change to AFCA’s rules after public consultation and ASIC’s recent agreement to the change. 

From 1 July 2019 until 30 June 2020, AFCA can deal with complaints that would normally fall outside its time limits. During this 12-month period, AFCA can accept complaints about the conduct of financial firms dating back to 1 January 2008. This followed the government’s response to Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s final report.

Other activities

Over the next six months, AFCA is undertaking a roadshow to raise awareness of its services. This roadshow will stop at metro, regional and rural communities across Australia. AFCA’s chief ombudsman, senior leaders and experienced staff will be in train stations, shopping centres and public spaces talking to consumers about financial disputes and how AFCA can assist.2

AFCA regularly hosts forums in capital cities. These forums are geared towards specific products such as banking and finance, investment and advice, life insurance, general insurance and superannuation. They provide a platform to update financial firms on dispute trends, ongoing developments and process initiatives. They also provide an opportunity to discuss issues in dispute resolution directly with the ombudsmen, senior management and panel members. They are open to financial firms, their representatives and industry affiliates. 

It is also conducting a series of member forums and small business forums as part of the roadshow. The dates, times and locations of these can be found on the website. 

LIV members are welcome to register for these events to learn more about the free service. 

AFCA also attends a range of events across the country to raise awareness including speaking at industry and consumer group forums. In addition, AFCA is normally willing to speak to different stakeholders about its processes, jurisdiction or other relevant matters. 

AFCA’s first 10 months has been busy and productive. AFCA is undertaking several key activities to be more transparent and accessible. It is committed to raising awareness and engaging strongly with relevant stakeholders. 


Chris Liamos is an ombudsman at AFCA. He also sits on the LIV ADR Committee, which is part of the Litigation Lawyers Section. In addition, he is a Tribunal and Appeals Board member of Football Victoria and a board member of the Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre.

1. Relevant statistics can be found at www.afca.org.au/news/statistics/.
2. More information about the roadshow can be found at www.afca.org.au/news/afca-roadshow/.

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