It gives me great pleasure to present this FOS Circular as the new Chief Ombudsman and CEO of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), which has been operating the FOS scheme since 1 May 2018 (prior to AFCA commencing on 1 November 2018).
I’m looking forward to ensuring AFCA delivers fair, accessible and high-quality dispute resolution services for consumers, small businesses and financial institutions. Our publications provide the opportunity to explain our work: what we do and how we do it, and what you need to know. As we move towards the start date of AFCA, you’ll be hearing from us in different ways.
This is the final edition of The FOS Circular.
Over the years The Circular has brought you lots of information for members and consumers. There have been different formats and different logos but its aim has always been the same – to help facilitate dispute resolution by providing practical information and explaining our approach on substantive issues.
The first edition of The FOS Circular was published in September 2009. FOS was still in its infancy – just over twelve months old – and already it was changing: the first story in the new publication was about a consultation on a change to the Terms of Reference!
Now, a decade after FOS began, we’re very close to our transition to AFCA, and it’s time to retire The FOS Circular. We’re planning to bring you a brand new publication early in the new year that will focus on resolving disputes at AFCA. If there’s anything you’d particularly like us to include in the new publication, please let us know. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to bring you what you need.
Over the next few months we are holding a number of events for existing, new and potential AFCA members. You can stay up-to-date with what’s happening near you in our Upcoming Events calendar.
Of course, even as we move towards AFCA commencing, we are still resolving FOS disputes. We received 11,790 disputes from April to June 2018 – 17% more than in the same quarter last year – and we closed 11,611 disputes, which is the highest number closed in a quarter in the past five years. You can read the full statistics update here.
We recognise that our members are also still working to resolve disputes before they come to either FOS or AFCA. In this edition we are sharing our accessibility guides, which we hope will help improve access to dispute resolution more generally. We expect they will be most useful for some of our smaller members who might not have the time and/or personnel to develop their own material. The guides include how to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people such as those experiencing family violence, hearing, vision and speech difficulties, and mental health problems. You can read more here.
We continue to recommend a compensation scheme of last resort for consumers who are not paid what FOS has determined they are entitled to. You can read the latest figures of unpaid FOS determinations here.
I look forward to bringing you a new publication in the new year.
Chief Ombudsman/Chief Executive Officer