New complaints authority could stifle competition: FPA

The FPA has warned that the new Australian Financial Complaints Authority could negatively affect segments of the market if the flexible complaints criteria aren’t updated.

In a submission made to the Senate Standing committees on economics, the FPA said the criteria used by the current external dispute resolution scheme is too broad, and there is “no reason” to expect this to change with the introduction of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

“This breadth and flexibility provides considerable power to affect competition in financial services markets, given there would be only one external dispute resolution scheme,” the submission said.

The Financial Ombudsman Service provides a good example of this, the submission said, noting the terms of reference for this body make no reference to competition within financial services markets and instead rely solely on legal principles, applicable industry codes, good industry practice and previous relevant decisions of FOS or a predecessor scheme.

“If AFCA adopts an approach to resolving complaints that has disproportionate negative impact on a subset of a market, this has the potential to drive firms out of that market,” the submission said.

“To help deal with this problem, we recommend that s1051A is amended to include a general consideration of ‘the competitiveness and efficiency of financial services markets’.”

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New complaints authority could stifle competition: FPA
AFCA, Australian Financial Complaints Authority, Financial Ombudsman Service, FOS, Senate Standing Committees on  Econimics, Financial Planning Association, FPA
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