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Issue 28 - February 2017

Chief Ombudsman's Message

 

Welcome to the first edition of The FOS Circular for 2017.

Just over a month in and this year is already shaping up to be a busy one at FOS. We recently made a further submission to the Ramsay Review, in which we continue to support proposals for a single scheme for financial, credit, investments and insurance disputes to simplify, strengthen and increase access to free external dispute resolution for consumers and small businesses. Our latest submission to the Ramsay Review will be published shortly.

We also welcome the announcement by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Hon Kelly O'Dwyer MP, to extend the Ramsay Review’s Terms of Reference to include firm recommendations on the establishment and potential design of a compensation scheme of last resort.

We have another busy schedule of member events planned this year, with our member forums soon kicking off again. We have recently joined Twitter and invite you to follow @FOSAustralia for news, resources and event updates. We’ll be sharing information and insights on dispute resolution in the financial services sector, along with tips for avoiding disputes.

An important component of our engagement strategy is our Consumer Liaison Group (CLG). The CLG is made up of consumer advocates from across Australia and I am pleased to welcome Rachna Bowman, Financial Counsellor at South East Community Links in Victoria as one of our new members. We are also fortunate to have Lillian Pangallo, Financial Counsellor at The Salvation Army Moneycare in NSW and Gemma Mitchell, Principal Solicitor at the Consumer Credit Legal Service in WA join the CLG. You can find out more about Rachna in our Postcard from Victoria.

This edition of The FOS Circular looks at the engagement work we are doing with FSPs around family violence and provides an update on the conciliation pilot we commenced in 2016.

This edition also features updates on unpaid FOS determinations, systemic issues and Code Compliance and Monitoring, plus a spotlight on Mannie Edwards, Financial Difficulty Team manager and Chair of the RAP Working Group.

FOS received 9,604 disputes in the October to December 2016 quarter. This is a 1% decrease compared with last quarter and a 26% increase compared with the December quarter last year.  A key reason for this increase seems to be continued industry specific issues in general insurance along with generally sustained dispute numbers across other areas. This quarter, we accepted 5,580 disputes. This is a 4% decrease compared with last quarter and a 9% increase compared with the same quarter last year.

We closed 9,820 disputes this quarter. This is a 4% increase compared with last quarter and a 25% increase compared with the same quarter last year. This is the result of the concerted efforts of staff across all our FOS teams working closely with both applicants and FSPs, as well as an increase in resources to ensure we are appropriately staffed and our service is open and accessible. Read the complete statistics report here.

If you have comments or suggestions about anything you read in The FOS Circular, we would be pleased to hear from you. Please let us know at [email protected]

Shane Tregillis
Chief Ombudsman

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