The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) acts as the middleperson between financial firms and consumers or small businesses, offering free and independent dispute resolution services.
It deals with complaints about financial advice, insurance, banking and superannuation products and services. While the time limit to lodge a complaint to AFCA is usually between two and six years, the Australian Government recently created the opportunity for those with complaints up to 10 years old to come forward. This means consumers and small businesses have until 30 June 2020 to lodge complaints dating back to 1 January 2008. To lodge a complaint, you must follow AFCA’s process.
Contact your financial firm
It is important to contact your financial firm directly before contacting AFCA. Your financial firm must reply within a specific timeframe:
- 90 days for superannuation or traditional trustee complaints;
- 21 days for complaints involving financial difficulty; or
- 45 days for all other complaints.
If your financial firm does not reply within the timeframe, or you are unhappy with the reply, you can contact AFCA.
Lodge a complaint with AFCA
You can lodge a complaint with AFCA using their online form or by email, telephone or fax. It is important to identify the problem clearly, tell AFCA if you want somebody to complain on your behalf, and think about what loss you have suffered. You should also collect all relevant documents to support your claim and lodge a Statement of Financial Position if you are experiencing financial difficulty.
AFCA will usually refer your complaint back to the financial firm, at first instance. The financial firm will be given 21 days to work directly with you to reach a resolution.
If a resolution is not met, AFCA may facilitate negotiations between you and your financial firm by exchanging settlement offers and discussing them with both sides, or AFCA may hold a telephone conciliation conference.
If negotiations or conciliation fails, AFCA will generally make a preliminary assessment and give you and your financial firm a chance to accept or reject the assessment.
If the assessment is rejected by either side, AFCA will make an enforceable decision about your complaint after considering the relevant laws, codes of practice and information provided by you and your financial firm. Low value, single issue complaints are fast-tracked and an AFCA adjudicator makes a decision within two weeks. Standard and complex complaints are decided by the ombudsman or a panel within four to eight weeks. Complaints involving financial difficulty are decided in 4 weeks.
How we can help
Slater and Gordon can help you by:
- Advising you about any financial complaints you have
- Assisting you to negotiate a resolution with your financial firm
- Providing you with advice about AFCA’s decision about your financial complaint
- Representing you in any subsequent legal proceedings against a financial institution or advisor
Learn more about our professional negligence services, or if you have an enquiry about a financial complaint, you can submit an enquiry online.
The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.