The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has received over 13,000 enquiries in its first month of operation and 6522 complaints from consumers and small business owners in regards to financial products and services.
“This number of calls and complaints is on par with what we were expecting,” said CEO and Chief Ombudsman David Locke. “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.”
Since opening for business on November 1, 2018, the organisation has averaged 310 complaints per business day, with the AFCA reporting an increase of more than 47 per cent in complaints received, compared to its predecessor scheme
Lockie said the AFCA is moving to revuild trust in the financial services sector and said since opening, 15 per cent of disputes have been finalised.
Most of the complaints AFCA has received have been about credit (45 per cent), followed by general insurance (21 per cent) and deposit taking (10 per cent). 8 per cent of complaints received were about superannuation. While most complaints were lodged by individual consumers, 460 complaints were lodged by small businesses.
Banks ranked highest in terms of complaints received with 2,367 complaints, followed by general insurers (1,159 complaints) and credit providers (1,040 complaints).
Lockie said complaints about decisions made by financial firms are the most common reason why consumers and small businesses are contacting the AFCA. However he suggested AFCA’s service was streamlining the complaints’ process and providing quiciker resolutions and better outcomes.
“80 per cent of complaints have been lodged online, meaning consumers and small businesses have been able to access our service whenever and wherever they need it,” Locke continued.
AFCA is currently investigating 84 definite systemic issues and 4 potential serious contraventions and other breaches.
“Systemic issues are identified in a complaint or several complaints, and have an effect on people beyond the parties to a complaint. Because of this, we take our responsibility to identify and investigate systemic issues very seriously. Financial firms should be in no doubt that we will be referring and reporting these to the appropriate regulator.”