The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) officially opened on 1 November, and has since received 13,000 phone enquiries and 6,552 complaints from small businesses and consumers about financial products or services.
Averaging about 310 complaints per business day, AFCA has so far experienced an increase of more than 47 per cent in complaints received, when compared to the three predecessor schemes.
Most of the complaints AFCA has received have been about credit (45 per cent), followed by general insurance (21 per cent) and deposit taking (10 per cent). Eight per cent of complaints received were about superannuation. While most complaints were lodged by individual consumers, 460 complaints were lodged by small businesses.
The most complained provider type were banks with 2,367 complaints, followed by general insurers (1,159 complaints) and credit providers (1,040 complaints).
According to AFCA, complaints about decisions made by financial firms are the most common reason why consumers and small businesses make complaints. This includes issues relating to denial of insurance claims and responsible lending. Service issues, such as service quality, delay in claim handling or delay in complaint handling are the next most common issues.
“This number of calls and complaints is on par with what we were expecting. We want to make sure that members of the public know where to go for help when they have a financial complaint they can’t resolve directly with their financial firm,” said AFCA chief executive and Chief Ombudsman David Locke.
This is part of our role in rebuilding trust in the financial services sector. In fact, while we have only been operating for a month, 15 per cent of the complaints we received in the month of November have already been finalised
“Our streamlined processes and systems have dealt well with the level of calls and complaints received. Eighty per cent of complaints have been lodged online, meaning consumers and small businesses have been able to access our service whenever and wherever they need it.”
AFCA is currently investigating 84 definite systemic issues and 4 potential serious contraventions and other breaches.