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Issue 26 - August 2016

Chief Ombudsman's Message

 

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

It is now one year since we introduced our streamlined approach to resolving disputes. Regular readers will be aware, the new process was in a large part formulated based on feedback from our stakeholders around how we could improve the speed, efficiency and fairness of our process for all users.

Under our new process we continue to reduce dispute timeframes without compromising quality. Average resolution times reduced from 95 days last year to 62 days in 2015-16. And, other than a couple of complex disputes, all the open disputes we are currently dealing with were accepted by FOS after 1 July 2015.

The Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, this week released the Terms of Reference for the review of the external dispute resolution (EDR) and complaint framework for the financial system.

This is an important development in the financial services sector, as access by consumers to effective independent dispute resolution is essential in achieving fair outcomes for consumers and supporting trust in financial services. We are committed to the principles of fair, open and simple resolution of financial disputes. Reducing complexity for consumers in accessing effective independent dispute resolution has our strong support. Moreover, we believe that the existence of three separate and overlapping schemes can potentially be confusing and add complexity for consumers, industry and the broader community

We look forward to working with the independent expert panel to ensure Australia has an EDR framework that delivers fair and effective outcomes for everyone.

While the panel will not be able to make recommendations on a compensation scheme of last resort, which we have long called for, we are pleased that its terms of reference explicitly state that it can make observations about this important gap in the current regulatory framework. 

The FOS National Conference, which is held every two years, is regarded by many as a useful opportunity to gain insights and information about dispute resolution. This is an important event on FOS’s schedule of engagements with the industry, where we share our experience, our approach to dispute resolution and industry insights. The National Conference is also an opportunity to learn from others about current and future trends and other topics of major relevance and interest to the sector. The conference program can be found here.

Our latest statistics report shows that we received 8,638 disputes between April and June 2016. This was a 9% increase from the previous quarter and a 22% 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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