The Annual Review, released in early October, shows the total number of disputes received remains relatively steady with FOS receiving 31,680 disputes, a decrease of 2% on last year. The number of disputes accepted declined by 3% to 23,454 disputes.
Credit disputes accounted for 50% of all accepted disputes in 2013-14, followed by general insurance disputes (27%).
General insurance dispute numbers fell by 12% in 2013-14. "This can be attributed to a much higher prevalence of insurance covering flood, greater consumer awareness about flood cover and improved industry practice," said Chief Ombudsman, Shane Tregillis.
Financial difficulty disputes, which occur when a consumer is unexpectedly unable to meet their payment obligations, continued to decrease with a 9% reduction from last year and down 29% from 2011-12.
"This is most likely due to the efforts financial services providers have made in managing hardship requests and complaints from customers in financial difficulty, as well as the presence of consistently low interest rates which have reduced repayment pressure for many borrowers," Mr Tregillis said.
In 2013-2014, FOS identified and referred 162 possible systemic issues (issues that may have an effect on people beyond the parties to a dispute) to financial services providers for response, compared with 128 last year. A total of 54 definite systemic issues were resolved this year, compared with 37 last year.
“FOS continues to have a strong focus on the identification and resolution of systemic issues with our members,” Mr Tregillis said.
“There is also more to be done to improve how quickly we resolve disputes. This has been a key focus of our efforts over the past year and of the current work to streamline our dispute process in response to the findings of the FOS Independent Review,” Mr Tregillis said.
Numbers at a glance:
- 12,605 credit disputes accepted – up 2%
- 6,704 general insurance disputes accepted – down 12%
- 4,705 financial difficulty disputes accepted – down 9 %
- 1,174 investment disputes accepted – down 3%
View the Annual Review 2013-14.