Di Ennis, Senior Manager – External Dispute Resolution Teams, attended the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) workshop in Xi’an, China, at the end of May.
The GPFI is an inclusive platform for all G20 countries, interested non-G20 countries and relevant stakeholders to carry forward work on financial inclusion, including implementation of the G20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan, endorsed at the G20 Summit in Seoul.
FOS was invited to participate in the GPFI workshop on market conduct and supervision, financial consumer protection and financial literacy. Di formed part of a panel who presented on the topic of alternative dispute resolution.
“My presentation focused on the Australian financial regulatory environment, our key business challenges, and how we adapt to change,” Di said. “I also talked about the mechanics of how we resolve disputes and explained systemic issues and code compliance monitoring. It was a lot to cover in a short space of time!
“There are a lot of differences in the way international financial markets are regulated – it’s really disjointed, but there were also many similarities when it came to talking about challenges. For example, the rapid increase in technology and the effect this is having on the types of financial products being developed.”
Financial literacy was also a common theme. Countries accepting significant numbers of refugees need to come up with innovative solutions to address financial inclusion, particularly for people who may have no official status, and in some countries, cannot open a bank account because they have no formal identification papers.
“I found the approach to improving financial literacy in Canada in particular really interesting,” Di said. “In 2014 the Canadian government appointed a financial literacy leader to develop and implement Canada’s national strategy for financial literacy. I am not aware of any other country doing this.”
Debt collection was another difference highlighted in the discussions. In China, for example, there are no standard debt collection practices, no credit reports, and no bankruptcy laws – although China is considering putting a formal bankruptcy structure in place.
“One of the main impressions I’ll take away from the experience is that FOS is a leader in alternative dispute resolution in financial services,” Di said. “Delegates were very interested in how we stream disputes, our focus on data collection, and our ASIC reporting requirements. I received really positive feedback about the way we review quality and fairness, including publishing comparative tables. Delegates were very surprised that we publish our decisions, albeit de-identified. FOS is also leading the way in how we identify and handle systemic issues.”
Connecting with our colleagues from New Zealand
In early May, FOS Chief Ombudsman Shane Tregillis presented at the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) Conference 2016, held in Melbourne.
Presenting with Di Carmody, Deputy Ombudsman, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), on the topic of Developing our people for today’s environment and tomorrow’s challenges, Shane spoke of FOS’s approach to building its leaders. He elaborated on FOS’s four-tier Management Development Program directed towards nurturing aspiring, leading and senior managers in the development of their leadership and management skills.