Financial planning firms should brace for the possibility of an influx of legacy complaints, following the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) having cleared the way for the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to investigate issues dating back to 1 January, 2008.
The legacy complaints move was announced by the Government in February with ASIC putting the necessary regulatory approvals in place today, prompting AFCA’s chief ombudsman and chief executive, David Locke to suggest that financial planning firms will have first responsibility to deal with the matters via internal dispute resolution procedures.
He said AFCA had a 12-month window to accept and investigate these complaints which must not have been dealt with by AFCA, its predecessor schemes, courts, or tribunals.
“AFCA’s ability to consider legacy complaints dating back to 2008 provides people with the opportunity to now have their matters independently reviewed,” he said. “We have identified thousands of complaints that could potentially be made to AFCA, based on those that were lodged but deemed outside the jurisdiction of previous schemes.”
Locke said AFCA would accept complaints from 1 July 2019 and follow its usual practice of referring them back to the financial firms to resolve them.
“It is our expectation that firms will proactively resolve these legacy matters themselves where possible, as part of their commitment to justly remediate the misconduct of the past and meet the community’s expectations of fairness.
“Where firms are unable to satisfactorily resolve the complaints, AFCA will start investigating these matters from 1 October 2019,” he said.