The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) is the financial watchdog that oversees financial institutions and ensures that they fully comply with the stipulated regulations in the country. The AFCA Melbourne headquarters recently pointed out that it has been flooded by complaints coming in from Aussies regarding banks and insurers who have been unfair to them.
The AFCA is taking things seriously as their Melbourne office has recorded more than 600 phone calls per day coming in from aggravated and upset customers. The AFCA has its hands full as it plays a major role in solving financial disputes between customers and financial institutions across the country.
In a statement, David Locke, CEO of the AFCA said
We recognise that for many people that have a financial dispute it can be incredibly stressful and difficult people’s lives are often on hold while these matters are being resolved.
The AFCA is rather a young organization in the country and the way it handles these customer grievances is important as it will send a strong message to both regulators and customers who are upset. The AFCA has been in operation for just 6 months and was formed after the three different tribunal bodies and the ombudsman merged.
The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, Financial Ombudsman Service and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman were all merged into one organization called the AFCA. So far, the AFCA has noted more than a 40 percent increase in customer complaints when compared to the combined complaints recorded by the three different organizations.
AFCA Must Address Two Key Concerns
The AFCA is looking to address two key concerns in the coming months. The first is making public the names of insurers and banks who are being subjected to customer complaints. This process will result in a list of the worst offenders in the country and it will be a red flag to customers to stay away from these banks and financial institutions.
The second issue that the financial watchdog is looking to address is fixing systematic issues. Instead of looking at individual cases, the AFCA believes that the best way forward is address systematic issues, fix them and ensure that the number of customer complaints drops significantly.
That is going to be a huge job for the AFCA as the organization has as many as 81 systematic issues to address. The biggest systematic issue covers nearly 2.4 million Aussies. The AFCA is confident that given time it will be able to reduce the number of complaints.