Speaking at the organisation’s tenth birthday celebrations in Wellington, Ms Taylor said that a 36% increase in complaints over the past financial year demonstrates the need for financial service dispute resolution.
Since 2010, FSCL now investigates 298 total disputes on average per annum, versus 20 in the first year the organisation was operating. Since its inception, FSCL has dealt with more than 30,000 complaints and enquiries about financial service providers, resolved more than 1988 disputes and awarded over $6 million in compensation.
Total enquires for the 2019/ 2020 financial year peaked at 3422, or an average of 13 complaints a day.
“We hope the sharp increase over the past financial year reflects both our consumer outreach work and our scheme participants more readily referring clients who have unresolved complaints to FSCL,” said Ms Taylor.
However, the organisation’s role is broader than just investigating and resolving complaints.
“Over the past decade we have seen FSCL’s role in the financial services industry evolve. An increasingly important part of our role is education by sharing the lessons learned from complaints. We have built up a wealth of experience in our team and a useful body of case notes. We have made contributions to new policy and legislation that have helped shape the laws applying to financial services and advice, working to improve industry standards and financial literacy,” said Ms Taylor.
Approved under the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008, FSCL currently has over 7000 participant members. Guided by the approval criteria of independence, fairness, efficiency, effectiveness, accessibility, and accountability, FSCL works with consumers and their financial service provider to reach a fair outcome in an unresolved dispute.
Following the impacts of Covid-19, Ms Taylor says that FSCL expects to see more complaints as the various government financial relief packages end over Christmas.
“This year was unprecedented for many industries and the financial services sector is no different. Financial services complaints can be expected to increase as government Covid-19 and lender support packages come to an end in the next few months,” Ms Taylor explains.
“However, an increase in complaints is not a threat. Rather, it is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable customer insights, raise customer satisfaction, and focus on business improvement. “
Ms Taylor said that in her over 25 years’ experience in dispute resolution, she had seen first-hand how beneficial alternative dispute resolution can be and the value that can be added to a business by effective complaints handling.
“Well-handled complaints serve to reinforce public confidence in the financial systems we all rely on.”