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FOS addresses Independent Review recommendations

17 September 2015, 12:00 PM

The Board of the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia, FOS, today released a final status report showing it has implemented all the key recommendations from its independent review conducted in 2013.

Chairman of the FOS Board, Professor, The Hon. Michael Lavarch AO said: “On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to report the recommendations made by the independent reviewers, and accepted by the FOS Board, have now all been addressed by FOS.

The FOS Board considers periodic independent reviews are an important public accountability mechanism for external dispute resolution schemes,” Mr Lavarch said.

“Importantly, the changes made at FOS over the past two years are now delivering improved dispute resolution for Australian consumers, particularly in reducing the time taken to resolve disputes,” Mr Lavarch said.

Under FOS’s terms of approval by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC, FOS must commission regular, independent reviews of its operations and procedures.

This independent review was commissioned by the FOS Board in consultation with ASIC in July 2013. The report of the independent reviewers, CameronRalph Navigator followed a six month detailed assessment of FOS’s operations.

The review assessed FOS’s operations against ASIC Regulatory Guide 139 benchmarks of accessibility, independence, fairness, accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, and also assessed FOS’s jurisdiction and dispute resolution process.

The review found that FOS had made significant improvements in its performance at that time, including to its management, organisational capability and infrastructure along with improved quality of FOS’s decision making and robust quality assurance arrangements across the organisation.

Key recommendations for the independent review focused on the need for FOS to increase the pace of its efforts to eliminate dispute backlogs and reshape its dispute process to reduce the time taken to resolve new disputes.

Now, FOS has completed its implementation of the Board endorsed recommendations.

Mr Lavarch said: “FOS eliminated a significant backlog in case management by the end of 2014 and across all dispute areas by June 2015. This required a concerted effort by all staff working closing with FOS members, consumer organisations and other stakeholders.”

Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, its new streamlined dispute process was introduced on 1 July 2015.

“While it is still early days, FOS is already seeing the benefits of more active engagement with applicants and financial services providers much earlier in the dispute process, fewer FOS touchpoints, and the ability to apply FOS expertise right from the start of FOS’s involvement with applicants and FSPs,” Mr Lavarch said.

“The changes implemented are not only about reducing the time taken to resolve disputes. At their heart, they are designed to improve the quality of the experience for both applicants and members. Our efforts to continue improving the quality of our dispute process remain a key focus of the FOS Board,” Mr Lavarch said.

FOS Board Statement Actions taken in response to IR

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