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Issue 27 - October 2016

Chief Ombudsman's Message

 

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

Early in October we made a submission to the independent panel reviewing external dispute resolution (EDR). Our key recommendations build on the strengths of the current Ombudsman model based on the principles of fairness, openness, simplicity and adaptability.

The submission outlined recommendations which aim to remove duplication, expand the range of disputes able to access EDR and reduce complexity, including:

  • consolidation of the existing schemes
  • expansion of the Financial Ombudsman’s small business jurisdiction
  • a review of the monetary limits for the general consumer jurisdiction
  • enhancing the Financial Ombudsman's powers
  • a compensation scheme of last resort.

We believe these improvements will strengthen the EDR framework without the legal complexities of a more formal statutory tribunal.

It was great to see so many of you take up the opportunity to learn more about dispute resolution, share industry insights and network at the FOS National Conference in Melbourne. Some 470 attendees from the industry, consumer sector, regulators and professional associations heard presentations from 42 speakers, with   the break-out sessions proving especially popular. Read our full round-up of the conference in this issue.

This edition of The FOS Circular looks at disputes involving requests for early release of superannuation by borrowers in financial difficulty, and whether such releases are the best solution for people in financial hardship.

We have also developed a new factsheet, Clear coverage, looking at the broad range of members FOS works with, and the comprehensive blend of expertise our decision makers, panel members and case workers bring to FOS. You can view our other factsheets on our website.

We closed 9,576 disputes this quarter – the highest number of disputes closed in a quarter in the past three years. We received 9,781 disputes – 4% more than the previous quarter and 16% more than the same quarter last year. The increase in disputes received and accepted continues to be largely due to the higher number of General Insurance disputes we have been receiving, as reported in our Annual Review. Find out more in this issue's statistics report.

This edition also features updates on unpaid FOS determinations, systemic issues and Code Compliance and Monitoring, plus a spotlight on our two newest Ombudsmen, Geoff Bant and Helen Moye.

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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