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How to Make Complaints to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)


If you have received bad financial advice or have a dispute with a financial services company, all complaints are now referred to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority rather than Financial Ombudsman Service Australia. AFCA has special ways of dealing with disputes, Attwood Marshall Lawyers, Senior Paralegal and Commercial Litigation Department Manager Amanda Heather explains.

Believe it or not, financial planners, bankers, and superannuation providers do not always have the best interest of their clients at heart. As the Banking Royal Commission has revealed, the Australian finance industry is rotten to the core. Many Australians have received bad financial advice so financial planners can get kick backs from the big banks.

Financial advice can be tainted with misconduct, full of mistakes, or simply wrong. For the ordinary mum and dad or business investor, the prospect of fighting a big financial company may be daunting. Investors might feel defeated or ashamed to have been cheated out of their life savings. But there is a way to fight for lost savings.

Disputes and complaints about bad financial advice or products can be raised in the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (‘AFCA’). AFCA is a consumer friendly facility that allows aggrieved financial planning clients to recover losses from their advisers and financial service providers in a quick, cheap and simple forum. AFCA does not have the complexity and stress of a court case, and is completely free to consumers. Legal help is advised to get the best outcome at AFCA.

What is the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (‘AFCA’)?

AFCA is the Australian Financial Complaint Authority that deals with complaints that were previously handled by the Financial Ombudsman Service, Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman. AFCA deals with several common disputes which can arise between consumers and lenders or other financial institutions.

Bad credit, bad finance or a bad loan

AFCA deals with consumer complaints against bad credit, bad financing and bad loans.  This includes fees and charges being incorrectly applied or calculated, misleading or incorrect information and instructions not followed. The Royal Commission into banks highlighted many examples of bad financing, loans and fees. In one case, Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) financial planners charged fees from dead clients.

Disputes with an insurance company

How to Make Complaints to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (‘AFCA’) deals with consumer complaints against insurance companies where inappropriate or misleading advice has been given about an insurance policy, or a consumer has been incorrectly charged premiums, denied a claim, or had their policy cancelled.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers help people whose insurance claims have been rejected or where their insurer has tried to depart from their obligations under the policy in the cheapest fashion.

For example, our lawyers recently helped a client to receive a fair cash settlement from an insurer who initially refused to rebuild a commercial investment which was burnt down in an arson attack.

Banking disputes, bad investment and financial advice

Banking disputes can arise from bad investment and financial advice. This poor or incorrect advice given to you or decisions made on your behalf without your consent and/or unauthorized transactions from your bank or loan accounts.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers help clients who have received poor financial advice from a bank’s internal financial planner. For example, a recent client was advised to invest their money into a growth portfolio – even though he was retired and 60-years-old. Our clients were forced to cut their drawings from their pension by 50% so they could preserve their capital. Attwood Marshall are dealing with the bank on our client’s behalf to successfully resolve the dispute.

Superannuation disputes

Superannuation disputes can arise from incorrect or misleading advice in relation to a superannuation product. Examples of superannuation disputes include where the member has not made a binding nomination and the superannuation fund decision about who the death benefit is paid to needs to be contested.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers also help to resolve disputes where clients have been in de facto relationships but the parents of the deceased have denied the relationship exists, so they receive the death benefit.

We also help clients in cases where a member has not changed their binding nomination, and their entitlements has unfairly gone to an ex partner.

What to consider when lodging a complaint with Australian Financial Complaints Authority

  1. What the issue in dispute is
  2. What your loss is (if any)and what outcome you want to achieve
  3. Collecting relevant material to support your complaint

Please note that some complaints cannot be dealt with through AFCA and it is recommended you obtain legal advice to obtain the best outcome.

What can Attwood Marshall Lawyers do to help with financial disputes?

Whilst AFCA is one method of dealing with these types of disputes, our lawyers are ready to fight for victims who have lost their homes, life savings, or quality of life, as a result of bad financial decisions or products.

If you have suffered losses or are dealing with a bank or financial planner without legal representation, or if you are not satisfied with the outcome of AFCA’s decision, we suggest you contact us to arrange an appointment to obtain preliminary advice as to your prospects of success.

If you would like more information or want to obtain the best possible chance of a successful outcome in your dispute, please contact our Commercial Litigation Department Manager, Amanda Heather on direct line 07 5506 8245, email or free call 1800 621 071.

For more information see our recent blogs:

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Amanda is the Department Manager and Senior Paralegal for not only the Estate Litigation and Commercial Litigation Departments, but also oversees both Equine Law and Criminal Law divisions

Amanda Heather

Department Manager
Estate Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Law, Racing & Equine Law

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The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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