COMPLAINTS THAT WE DEAL WITH
What types of complaints do you look at?
We look at complaints about most financial services and products including:
- Loans and credit
- Financial planning
- Financial advice and investments
- Insurance broking
- Mortgage and finance broking
- Stock broking
- Superannuation funds
- Managed funds
- Funds transfers
- Foreign exchange
- Card services
Typical complaints are:
- Misleading information or inappropriate advice
- Non-disclosure of fees and/or terms of the contract
- Debt recovery and repossession action
- Decline of an insurance claim
- Suitability of product for the consumer’s needs
- Transaction disputes.
We are able to investigate claims for amounts up to $350,000.
Who can I make a complaint against?
COMPLAINTS THAT WE CANNOT DEAL WITH
What types of complaint can’t you look at?
We can deal with complaints about a wide range of financial matters, but there are some types of complaints we cannot help with. It is usually best to phone us so we can talk through with you whether or not we can help.
Some examples of situations where we may not be able to help are where the complaint is about:
- a participant’s commercial judgment in a lending, security or insurance matter, although we can look at complaints about maladministration in a lending, security or insurance matter.
- events occurring before 1 April 2010
- a loss exceeding $350,000.
OUR COMPLAINTS PROCESS
How do I make a complaint?
Before we can help with your complaint we need to give your financial service provider the opportunity to resolve your complaint with you. You can make your complaint directly to your financial service provider. We are also happy to forward your complaint to your financial service provider to make sure it gets to the people who can help you. You can complete the online complaints form, email us at or telephone us on 0800 347 257.
If you have already made a complaint to your financial service provider and received a final response but your complaint remains unresolved please refer your complaint to us now by completing the form online or downloading it. Remember to refer your complaint immediately. Delay could affect our ability to investigate your complaint.
What happens next?
Our review of your complaint begins. Please refer to the complaints flow diagram and the complaint investigation and resolution process for more information about what to expect during our investigation.
How long does the process take?
That depends on several factors, including the complexity of the claim or the availability of all the documents and people we need to talk to.
We aim to resolve complaints within 75 working days. Complex cases take longer, and many cases can be resolved more quickly. We will keep you informed of our progress on your complaint.
Is there a charge?
No, our service is free to consumers.
Do I need a lawyer?
No. Our process is a free and informal alternative to going to Court. In most cases, you should not need a lawyer or other expert assistance. If you do decide to use a lawyer you will probably have to pay the legal costs yourself.
How do I make a complaint if I can’t speak English or can’t use the usual processes?
Call us, or ask someone else to call us, for information about what we can do to help. We will do our best to make sure you are able to access our services.
PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Is my information confidential?
Yes. Our process and decisions are confidential. Before starting our investigation, we will ask you to sign a waiver of confidentiality. This allows us to obtain all the information we need about your complaint from your financial services provider. We do not share this information with any third parties, except with your consent.
We produce case studies to communicate and inform people about the cases we have investigated, but we do not release information in a way that could identify you.
FAIRNESS AND DECISIONS
How do you investigate cases?
We are impartial and do not take sides.
We will try to negotiate a settlement between you and your financial services provider that is fair to both sides. This may involve conciliation or mediation.
If a negotiated settlement is not possible, and after reviewing all of the facts, our Financial Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer will make a decision based on what is fair in the circumstances to both parties. We look at:
- the law and relevant cases
- relevant industry codes of practice and/or standards.
If we recommend payment of compensation, it will aim to put you back in the financial position in which you should have been if the problem had not arisen. We can require a financial services provider to pay up to $350,000 in compensation for direct loss.
We may also recommend compensation for inconvenience (stress and embarrassment), up to a maximum of $5000. If we believe the financial services provider has acted fairly, or has made you a reasonable offer, we will tell you so.
Does the financial services provider have to follow your decision?
Yes, our final decision is binding on the financial services provider.
Do I have to accept your final decision?
No. If you remain unsatisfied, you are able to take other action, such as legal action.
If you do accept our final decision, it has to be in full and final settlement of your claim, and we will ask you to sign a “full and final” settlement form before your financial services provider pays you any compensation.
THE FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS REGISTER (FSPR)
Who must register on the FSPR?
Under New Zealand law (the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008) all individuals or entities wanting to provide financial services from a place of business in New Zealand must register on the Financial Service Providers Register – http://www.business.govt.nz/fsp/ – and meet the application requirements.
What does registration mean?
Registration as a financial service provider (FSP) is NOT an official approval of an individual, business, or organisation and does not necessarily indicate that the provider is licensed or regulated in New Zealand or any other country.
INDEPENDENCE AND IMPARTIALITY
Are you impartial?
Yes. We are neither a consumer advocate, nor an apologist for our participants. It is important that we remain impartial so both sides to the complaint know they are getting a fair hearing. This also means that we do not give financial or legal advice to you or our participants.
Do you fine or discipline your participants?
No. FSCL is not a regulator and cannot impose fines on or discipline our participants or their employees. Our powers are compensatory only.
Who pays for FSCL’s operating costs?
All of our participants pay an annual fee based on the size and scale of their business. Participants also pay fees for any cases that we investigate against them.