A list of 231 financial firms has been published as the new external dispute resolution scheme seeks proof-of-life from companies not yet signed up.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) began taking complaints on November 1, but entities were expected to be signed up to transfer their membership by 21 September.
AFCA has been liaising with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) about financial firms that have not taken out AFCA membership. ASIC will be taking appropriate action against these firms, as they are likely to be in breach of their legal obligations.
AFCA is asking organisations who were previously members of the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and have not taken out AFCA membership to check if they are on the published list.
They then need to immediately take out or finalise their AFCA membership application if they are required to be a member, or contact ASIC to cancel their licence if they are no longer operating.
AFCA CEO and chief ombudsman, David Locke said, “We have been working with ASIC to contact and communicate with these firms about their requirement to take out AFCA membership since August. Despite several communications, these firms have not yet joined AFCA.”
ASIC can take action to suspend or cancel the licence of an Australian Financial Service Licence (AFSL) or Australian Credit Licence (ACL) if they have not obtained AFCA membership.
Locke added, “Please be aware that if you are not now a member of AFCA, and you are in fact obliged to be a member, you are likely to be in breach of your legal obligations.
“AFCA is the new one-stop-shop for external dispute resolution of financial complaints, and membership of AFCA is central to ensuring there is public trust in the financial services industry.
“To protect this trust, it is critical that you ensure your organisation is an AFCA member if it needs to be, and that consumers and small businesses are able to make a complaint about your organisation.”
AFCA is not able to deal with complaints from consumers and small businesses about a financial firm if the firm is not a current AFCA member.
Previous members of the Financial Ombudsman Scheme (FOS), Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) were required to transfer their membership to AFCA by 21 September 2018. More than 36,000 organisations have completed the transfer to become members of AFCA.
All financial firm members of AFCA were also required to update their AFCA membership details with ASIC by 30 November 2018.
Find the full list here