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Issue 33 - May 2018

Chief Ombudsman's Message

Welcome to Issue 33 of The FOS Circular.

We have reached some very important milestones in the transition to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) as the new single dispute resolution scheme for the financial sector.  Most significantly, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services has authorised Australian Financial Complaints Limited (AFCL) as the new legal entity to operate AFCA.

A comprehensive program of work is currently underway to enable AFCA to be ready to accept new disputes from 1 November 2018. This will include public consultation on the new AFCA terms of reference (Rules) and funding model in coming months.  The new AFCA Board chaired by the Hon Helen Coonan held its first meeting on 7 May 2018. 

As part of the phased transition to AFCA, AFCL replaces the Financial Ombudsman Service Limited (FOSL) as the legal entity operating the FOS scheme until the AFCA scheme formally commences on 1 November 2018. Until then consumers should continue to lodge disputes with FOS under our current terms of reference. You can read more about our move to AFCA here.

The Royal Commission has held two rounds of public hearings in Melbourne since it was established in December 2017. FOS is participating in the Royal Commission in any way required of us. Our main focus, as always, remains on delivering financial dispute resolution that is fair, open, simple and accessible for all Australians to use.

We received 11,165 disputes in the March 2018 quarter – 7% more than the previous quarter, and 11% more than the same quarter last year. Most of the disputes we received were credit disputes, followed by general insurance disputes. You can read the whole statistics report for the March quarter here.

Resolving disputes can sometimes be easier if people feel they’ve had the chance to be heard, and conciliation conferences can provide that opportunity. In this edition we talk to a complaints case manager from one of our member financial services providers who used to think conciliations were a waste of time. Read about why she changed her mind here.

In the community sector, financial counsellor Wendy Richards is finding that financial pressures, loss of employment or changing personal circumstances is leading to an increasing number of clients doing it tough. You can read about Wendy’s important work here.

Elsewhere, you can read updates on unpaid FOS determinations, systemic issues and Code Compliance and Monitoring.

As always, if you have comments or suggestions about anything you read in The FOS Circular, please contact us at   

The current FOS Circular deals with issues relevant to members of the current FOS   dispute resolution scheme. As the transition to AFCA proceeds over the coming months, the FOS Circular will be replaced by a new AFCA publication to reflect the new organisation, its new jurisdiction and new members.  

Shane Tregillis

Chief Ombudsman