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Complaints authority takes shape

The government has today announced the new one-stop shop for financial complaints is now being solidified and will soon commence providing consumers and small businesses with access to free, fast and binding dispute resolution.

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer confirmed the authorisation of Australian Financial Complaints Limited to operate the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the new financial dispute resolution scheme.

“Consumers and small businesses across Australia will benefit from the establishment of AFCA,” O’Dwyer said.

“AFCA will have expertise to deal with all disputes across the entire financial services industry, including superannuation and small business lending disputes.

“For the first time ever, consumers will be able to go to one place to resolve any kind of financial complaint, and the new AFCA scheme will operate under significantly higher monetary limits and compensation caps to boot.”

AFCA will commence accepting complaints from 1 November.

This commencement date will allow AFCA sufficient time to put in place the necessary infrastructure and staff to be ready to receive complaints.

Consumers will be able to lodge complaints with existing industry ombudsman schemes – the Financial Ombudsman Service, and the Credit and Investment Ombudsman – as well as the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) until AFCA commences.

The SCT will continue to operate beyond AFCA’s commencement to resolve the existing complaints it has on hand.

Complaints lodged with the SCT will not be transferred to AFCA.

O’Dwyer highlighted financial firms will be required to become members of AFCA by 21 September.

All financial services licensees, Australian credit licensees, superannuation trustees and other financial firms required to become members of AFCA by law will need to join no later than 21 September.

In the coming months, AFCA will outline the process of applying for membership.

Quantum Financial principal Claire Mackay was today appointed to the inaugural board of AFCA.

She joins AFCA chair Helen Coonan, Erin Turner, Andrew Fairley and Alan Wein.

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