Article updated at 11:12 am
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) continues to grow after its official start almost year ago.
Earlier this week, AFCA announced that Chief Ombudsman David Locke will appoint a Deputy Chief Ombudsman so that AFCA can continue to deliver on its promises. This follows the announcement of Lead Ombudsman Phillip Field’s resignation. Field will be finishing up at AFCA in July.
“AFCA has grown quickly, since we launched on 1 November 2018. It is now a much larger national body with an ambitious strategy that, as well as prioritising the effective resolution of disputes, also places an increased emphasis on identifying systemic issues and serious misconduct in the financial services industry,” Chief Ombudsman and CEO David Locke said, in a formal statement.
Locke continued that the complaints authority experienced an unprecedented 35,000 complaints in its first six months.
Locke added that AFCA was committed to assisting firms with their Internal Dispute Resolutions. This comes not long after the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) announced they were looking to improve standards around IDR for their regulated entities.
More on AFCA's role
An AFCA spokesperson explained to the GRC Professional about their role in helping the organisations with their IDR processes:
AFCA’s vision is to help financial firms to improve practices, to raise standards and to embed a new ethical customer focused culture. AFCA provides education through a number of channels including industry forums, webinars, case studies, one-on-one meetings, training workshops, a monthly newsletter and factsheets which are available on the AFCA website. We work with financial firms to help them identify complaints earlier, address any complaints trends or common issues and provide training on how to resolve complaints effectively through their IDR process.
When asked the if they have seen any change in organisations' approach to culture, the AFCA spokesperson said:
The Hayne Royal Commission bought to light a slew of bad practices and appalling treatment of consumers and small businesses. The task ahead for many financial firms is to address the poor culture that is deeply embedded throughout their organisations. Addressing this challenge is a monumental task. For trust to be rebuilt it will require a significant and concerted cultural change by financial firms. Some financial firms have responded positively and we have seen huge changes. However there are still a significant number that have not.