AFCA, Appointments

AFCA appoints new ombudsmen

AFCA appoints ombudsmen

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will welcome two new lead ombudsmen in August for the insurance and small business sectors.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has announced the appointments of two new lead ombudsmen for the insurance and small business sectors, with both set to join in August.

Westpac head of business bank legal Suanne Russell will become the new small business lead ombudsman at AFCA as of 2 August and Australian Securities and Investments Commission insurers senior executive leader Emma Curtis will join the authority on 9 August as the insurance lead ombudsman.

Russell joins AFCA as an experienced banking and finance lawyer, having worked at a number of law firms before working at St George Bank and Westpac, holding the roles of head of institutional and business banking legal for St George and business banking practice leader with Westpac.

Curtis, who has 25 years of experience in financial services law and governance, will start with AFCA after 10 years with ASIC, having developed the regulator’s stand-alone insurance supervision team and establishing a disaster working group as joint acting executive director of ASIC’s financial services group during the 2019-20 bushfires. She replaces John Price, who retires after 17 years with AFCA and its predecessor schemes to begin a part-time position with the authority.

AFCA chief ombudsman David Locke applauded Price’s achievements during his time as senior decision-maker.

“We thank John for his tremendous service, working for the benefit of both industry and consumers, most recently through a series of devastating natural disasters and as the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges. We are glad to be able to continue to draw on his experience and counsel,” Locke said.

“Emma and Suanne will bring significant financial sector and legal experience to these important roles. They will add great diversity and depth of experience to our leadership team.

“Emma is well known and respected in the insurance industry. She brings many years of experience in consumer law and insurance.

“Suanne is a leading banking and finance lawyer and her experience in the small business and consumer banking sector will be invaluable.”

The appointments follow recent news AFCA would also be appointing Professor John Pollaers as the new independent chair of its board of directors.

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