The number of people bringing problems to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia for resolution remained steady in 2014-2015, according to the FOS Australia Annual Review.
FOS Australia provides an independent dispute resolution service in which people can place their confidence and trust. FOS helps resolve disputes between consumers and its 14,107 members who are financial services providers.
2014-2015 numbers at a glance:
- 12,601 credit disputes accepted – no significant change
- 6,780 general insurance disputes accepted – up 1%
- 4,134 financial difficulty disputes accepted – down 12%
- 1,332 investment disputes accepted – up 13%
The 2014-15 Annual Review shows that FOS received 31,895 disputes, 1% more than the 31,680 disputes received last year.
The number of disputes accepted as being within FOS’s jurisdiction declined marginally by 0.5%, from 23,454 to 23,344.
Credit disputes continue to be the cause of most disputes, accounting for almost half (49%) of all accepted disputes, followed by general insurance disputes which accounted for one-quarter (26%) of all accepted disputes in 2014-2015.
Financial difficulty disputes, which occur when a consumer is unexpectedly unable to meet their payment obligations, continued to decrease with a 12% reduction from 4,705 disputes last year to 4,134 disputes in 2014-2015 and down 37% from 6,626 disputes in 2011-2012.
FOS Chief Ombudsman, Mr Shane Tregillis, said this was due to ongoing improvements that financial services providers are making to managing disputes when people are in financial difficulty, and the consistently low interest rates during the reporting period which had reduced repayment pressures for many borrowers.
The number of investment disputes increased 13%, from 1,174 last year to 1,332 disputes in 2014-2015. This increase mainly concerned disputes about managed investments and superannuation.
FOS identified and referred 173 possible systemic issues (issues that may have an effect on people beyond the parties to a dispute) to financial service providers for response, compared with 162 last year. A total of 52 definite systemic issues were resolved this year.
“FOS continues to have a strong focus on the identification and resolution of systemic issues with our members,” Mr Tregillis said.
In 2014-2015, FOS was also quicker to deal with disputes, closing 61% of disputes within 60 days (56% last year) and almost three-quarters (72%) within 90 days (67% last year).
“FOS introduced a new, streamlined process for resolving disputes in July, outside of the reporting period, which will lead to faster dispute resolution,” Mr Tregillis said.
“The changes made at FOS are already delivering improved dispute resolution for Australian consumers, particularly in reducing the time taken to resolve disputes,” Mr Tregillis said.
View the 2014-2015 Annual Review
View the 2014-2015 Annual Review Snapshot
2014-2015 Annual Review (PDF)
2014-2015 Annual Review snapshot (PDF)
2014-2015 Comparative Tables
Watch the Year in Review video