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Issue 25 - May 2016

Chief Ombudsman's Message

 

Welcome to the autumn edition of The FOS Circular for 2016.

Financial services have been increasingly in the news, with a strong focus on culture, service, ethics and trust.

The government recently announced that it has asked ASIC to review FOS’s small business jurisdiction and that it will appoint a panel of eminent persons to review dispute resolution and complaints schemes and assess the merits of better integrating these schemes to improve the handling of consumer complaints. FOS’s response can be found here.

FOS looks forward to working with ASIC, the government and our stakeholders in continuing to improve the service we provide for the benefit of the Australian community.

I also welcome the recent Australian Bankers’ Association’s announcement of in principle support for a compensation scheme of last resort. FOS will work with the ABA and other stakeholders in evaluating how such a scheme can best be implemented as soon as practicable.

At a recent meeting, the FOS Board decided to extend our current Strategic Plan by one more year, bringing our current plan to five years. This means we will continue to focus on implementing the changes we have made to our dispute process and organisation during the next financial year.

As an initial step in the strategic planning for the following years, we are seeking the views of stakeholders, through a major stakeholder survey which was launched in mid-April. We have commissioned DBM Consultants, an independent professional market research firm, to undertake the research on our behalf. We last undertook extensive research in early 2013, before the independent review. The findings of the research will help inform our areas of focus over the next three to five years.

Our member forums kicked off in March and we have enjoyed meeting many of you in various parts of the country, and hearing your views on the service we provide. There are still many more events planned for the remainder of 2016, including our bi-annual National Conference which will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 8 September, with a welcome dinner the night before. We will be sharing more information on the conference in due course, including details on how to register your attendance.

We have also been active in our outreach this summer, with a FOS presence at a diverse range of public events. We will be looking to see how we can strengthen and expand our community partnerships in future, as we all work through how to support vulnerable consumers, such as older Australians suffering abuse and victims of family violence.

The recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission on Family Violence provide a strong foundation for tackling family violence in our community. A number of the recommendations refer to FOS and there is a strong emphasis on the important role played by financial counsellors. We will review these to see how we can play our part in implementing the recommendations of the report in partnership with many other stakeholders.

Our first Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) meeting for 2016 took place in April and in this edition of The FOS Circular we have profiled Brenda Staggs, Legal Aid NSW’s disaster response co-ordinator and insurance specialist and a member of the CLG.

Our latest statistics report shows that we received 8,638 disputes between January and March 2016. This was a 15% increase from the previous quarter and a 4% increase from the same quarter last year.

Also included in this edition of The FOS Circular is an update on unpaid FOS determinations, a Systemic Issues update and an update from the Code Compliance and Monitoring Team.

If you have comments or suggestions about anything you read in The FOS Circular, we would be pleased to hear from you. Please let us know at publications@fos.org.au

Shane Tregillis
Chief Ombudsman

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