Australia revises consumer dispute resolution for finance sector 

Australia revises consumer dispute resolution for finance sector This content is subject to copyright.
August 18, 2020

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has published updated internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedures that financial firms — including superannuation funds — must use to address complaints from consumers and small businesses. The measures feature in Regulatory Guide 271 internal dispute resolution and aim to improve complaints procedures and outcomes for consumers. The updated guidance will take effect on 5 Oct 2021 and, until then, the current guidance (RG 165) will apply.  

Highlights of the updated guidance

  • An updated definition of complaints includes social media posts submitted to a channel or account owned or controlled by the financial firm that is the subject of the post, if the author is identifiable and contactable.
  • A reduction in the time allowed to respond to complaints about superannuation issues — to 45 days from 90. The time allowed to address complaints about death benefit distributions generally remains unchanged — at 90 days — after the expiry of the 28 calendar day period allowed to object to a proposed distribution.  
  • Guidance that IDR responses must include certain information to help consumers decide if they want to escalate their complaint.
  • New timeframes for the review of appeals against IDR decisions by “customer advocates,” where offered by financial firms.
  • Guidance for financial firms to help them deal with representatives that are not acting in the consumers’ best interests.
  • Specifications as to which IDR standards and requirements are enforceable.

ASIC confirmed that it will consult further “in the coming months” on the IDR data reporting regime and issue separate feedback in 2020. ASIC had previously postponed the issuance of guidance on data matters due to the number of issues raised in an earlier consultation on IDR data collection and recording.

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