Compliance, Regulation

AFCA given power to name dispute firms

AFCA name and shame

The industry-wide dispute resolution body, AFCA, will be able to ‘name and shame’ financial services firms under new powers granted to it by ASIC.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will be able name financial firms that are the subject of determinations, but consumers who are party to a complaint will continue to remain anonymous.

To date, AFCA has been unable to name firms in its published determinations since it began operations in November 2018, but requested the ability to do so from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which is required to approve changes to the AFCA scheme under section 1052D of the Corporations Act.

ASIC stated the publication of determinations was a longstanding feature of the external dispute resolution schemes in Australia and AFCA applied for the approval to change its rules following public consultation during May 2019.

“In approving this change, ASIC took into account stakeholder feedback to AFCA’s public consultation and the statutory approval criteria,” the corporate regulator said.

“ASIC’s view is that naming firms in determinations can help identify conduct or market problems within firms or affecting specific products or services, as well as highlighting where firms have done the right thing. It will also enhance transparency and accountability of firms’ performance in complaints handling and of AFCA’s own decision-making.”

As a result of the change, AFCA will issue new guidelines which set out the circumstances when a determination naming a firm would not be published, including when doing so may expose confidential information about a firm’s systems or policies.

AFCA become the single, external dispute resolution provider for the financial services sector from 1 November 2018, taking over from the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Super Complaints Tribunal.

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