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Issue 15 - Spring 2013

An update from the Code team

 

The Code Compliance and Monitoring team is a separate business unit of FOS. Our purpose is to assist the independent administration and monitoring of compliance with industry Codes of Practice in the financial services sector.

We assist in monitoring the Banking Code of Practice, the Mutual Banking Code of Practice, the General Insurance Code of Practice and the Insurance Broker’s Code of Practice. There are 699 financial services providers that subscribe to these four Codes.

Code monitoring activities in the banking, mutual banking and general insurance sectors are overseen by Code Compliance Committees which comprise an independent Chair, a consumer representative and an industry representative. These committees operate independently of the respective industries and have powers and functions to identify and address non-compliance with Code obligations. FOS provides secretariat services to each of these committees.

 

Code monitoring activities

Chargeback obligations

The Code Compliance Monitoring Committee (Banks) has released its follow-up report on Chargeback obligations under the 2004 Code of Banking Practice. The Report can be found on the CCMC website at www.ccmc.org.au.

Annual Compliance Statements

Since May 2013, the Code team has distributed 249 Annual Compliance Statements (ACS) and 138 Compliance Self Certification documents to Code subscribers across the Banking, General Insurance, Insurance Brokers and Mutual Banking Codes of Practice. The ACS program helps the team and the Code Compliance Committees understand:

  • the level of Code subscribers’ compliance with their Code obligations
  • the effectiveness and robustness of subscribers’ Code compliance monitoring frameworks
  • each subscriber’s methods for identifying Code breaches and how they manage any breaches
  • the impact and remediation of significant breaches and systemic issues related to Code compliance, and
  • areas of emerging Code compliance risk.

 

The ACS results will be published in the respective 2012-13 Annual Reports for each Code.

The General Insurance Code Compliance Committee’s Annual Report has already been published in the 'Reports' section of the Insurance Council of Australia’s Code of Practice website at www.codeofpractice.com.au.

 

Code reviews

The Code team has been engaging with both the Community Owned Banking Association (COBA – formerly ABACUS) and the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) about the outcomes of the independent reviews of the Mutual Banking and General Insurance Codes of Practice.

The revised Insurance Brokers Code of Practice is expected to commence operation on 1 January 2014. The Code team is looking forward to liaising with Code subscribers as they transition to the obligations of the revised Code.

 

Investigations strategy

In August 2013 the Code team began a pilot strategy for handling investigations of breaches under the General Insurance Code of Practice. The strategy has been developed to:

  • ensure a more efficient use of the resources of the Code team and Code subscribers in the investigation of Code breach allegations
  • prioritise matters where non-compliance may be ongoing
  • reduce the timeframes for investigating and finalising matters
  • identify and resolve matters which have already had FOS involvement, or where the Code Participant acknowledges a Code breach and has already taken corrective action
  • be less reliant on paper-based document exchange during the course of some investigations
  • encourage more active engagement and communication with Code subscribers during the investigation process.

 

The pilot will run for six months. During this time, the Code team will consult with Code subscribers about its progress and whether the pilot is meeting its objectives.

 

Engagement activities

The Code team is committed to engaging with key stakeholders about Code monitoring activities and the Code Compliance Committees. In the first quarter of 2013-14, the team was involved in 19 stakeholder engagement events, including:

  • quarterly liaison meetings with key representatives of banks that subscribe to the Code of Banking Practice, and a forum for 23 delegates from 12 banks
  • training for consumer advocates on the application of Codes to financial difficulty matters
  • attending the Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) Comparative Hardship workshop
  • attending and presenting at the Financial & Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) conference
  • attending the AIDA working party conference on insurance matters
  • producing a series of information sheets for consumers and consumer advocates about the new Mandate of the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee (Banks)
  • meeting with representatives of the Small Business Commissioners for Victoria and New South Wales
  • attending the Council of Small Business Australia conference in Brisbane.

 

 

 

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