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AFCA names chief ombudsman

by Reporter11 minute read

The financial complaints body has announced who its chief ombudsman and chief executive officer will be for the next five years.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has revealed it has reappointed lawyer David Locke as chief ombudsman and chief executive officer for a second five-year term.

Mr Locke, who was first appointed to his position when the body formed in 2018 following the merger of three ombudsman services – the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) – will begin his new term on 28 June 2023.

Speaking of his reappointment, the chair of the AFCA board, Professor John Pollaers OAM, said: “As AFCA’s inaugural chief ombudsman, David has met the challenge of bringing together three separate dispute resolution bodies to build a new, world-class scheme.


“He has also led the organisation through a period of significant growth in complaints as a result of the COVID pandemic, natural disasters and scams.”

Mr Pollaers flagged that the CEO and chief ombudsman had overseen “significant initiatives” such as the development of the publicly searchable AFCA Datacube, which allows firms and consumers to compare complaints performance; a new funding model welcomed for its fair, user-pays approach; a significant review of the AFCA Rules now underway; and an ongoing IT transformation to ensure an efficient and user-friendly experience for firms and consumers.

“AFCA provides a vital service,” Professor Pollaers said.

“Consumers, small businesses and financial firms can participate in the financial system with confidence that a robust process is in place in the event of a dispute. The board is delighted that David has accepted our invitation to continue to lead this important work.”

Mr Locke said he was honoured to be reappointed for a second term.

“AFCA plays a very important role in Australia’s financial services system, and it is a great privilege to lead such an amazing group of people who are passionate about access to justice and fairness to all.”

“We expect to register close to 100,000 complaints this financial year, up from 70,000 complaints just a year ago. AFCA’s services have, sadly, never been more needed.

“We will continue to work in partnership with financial firms, consumer bodies, and regulators to share lessons from our work and drive improved practices. We want to see financial firms resolve more disputes themselves, so fewer matters have to be escalated to AFCA,” Mr Locke said.

According to AFCA, its complaints resolution scheme had now secured $1 billion in compensation for consumers since opening its doors on 1 November 2018.

As of 30 March, it had resolved more than 320,000 complaints since opening its doors, with about 70 per cent of cases resolved by agreement.

In that time, AFCA had also identified and resolved 236 systemic issues – issues with wider implications beyond an individual complaint – resulting in refunds to 4.7 million consumers totalling more than $278 million.

[Related: Consultation opens on AFCA rules changes] 


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