Decisions of the newly-created Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) should be capable of not only being reviewed by an Independent Assessor but, if necessary reopened, according to the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA).
The AFA has used its submission to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) consultation process around the formation of AFCA to argue strongly that external dispute resolution (EDR) processes can get it wrong and that there needs to be scope to fix any of those errors.
What is more, the AFA has made clear that the ability to request that AFCA decisions go to an Independent Assessor should not be the sole preserve of clients and should also be open to financial planning firms.
“… we believe that it is essential that the independent assessor has the ability to do a merits review of a case and to re-open a case where the outcome is clearly wrong,” the AFA submission said. “Experience tells us that EDR schemes make mistakes from time to time. When these mistakes are discovered by the entity specifically established to undertake this independent review, then they should be given the powers and opportunity to fix the issue.”
The submission suggested that if this were not the case, “it would be a waste of time and effort and the quality and impact of the learnings would be seriously jeopardised”.
“We also make the point that it is essential that seeking a review is an option that is available to both the client and the financial firm,” the AFA submission said.