AFCA ‘performe’: Treasury – Professional planner

The Treasury gave the Australian Financial Complaints Authority a solid boost in its planned review, saying the consolidated body “is performing well in a challenging operating environment and a changing regulatory landscape.”

The review, which was handed to Financial Services Minister Jane Hume in August but made public on Wednesday, praised the authority for bringing together three old complaints systems and providing an effective dispute resolution service.

Additionally, the Treasury said, AFCA was doing its job in the right way by maintaining the prism of fairness in its operations.

“We were, on the whole, favorably impressed by the seemingly orderly process, the continued concern for procedural fairness and respectful communication with all parties, including the untrained and demanding participants,” noted the ‘exam.

“We did not find in the 20 cases we examined a single case of apparent bias or lack of independence. We considered the written assessments and preliminary determinations to be of consistently high quality, clearly written and logically reasoned.

While approving of AFCA’s performance in its teenage phase, the Treasury also made it clear that the authority must continue to develop and improve its processes and “consolidate” its place in the financial services ecosystem.

To that end, the review provided 14 recommendations for AFCA to focus on in its next phase, which broadly covered areas such as transparency, efficiency and timeliness.

After two years of activity, AFCA now has just over 40,443 members and has received 153,246 complaints. The average time to close a complaint so far is 74 days, with the average compensation awarded being $ 4,118.

Fifty-nine percent of complaints filed with AFCA came from the banking and finance area, while 26 percent were related to insurance and nine percent to pensions.

Only six percent of AFCA’s complaints were related to investments and advice.

Last week, AFCA’s senior ombudsperson for investments and advice, Natalie Cameron, said that only 1,238 of the total 70,510 complaints – or 1.8% – received by the authority from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 came from the consulting industry.

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