Further COVID-19 relief announced for financial firms

Advice firms will now have an extended period of time to deal with customer complaints under relief terms agreed between the industry ombudsman and ASIC.

In a statement, AFCA said financial firms would receive a nine-day extension to deal with customer complaints, effective immediately.

"Financial firms currently have 21 days to respond when AFCA notifies them that a complaint has been lodged, they will now have 30 days," the ombudsman said.

"AFCA is taking a flexible approach to assisting all parties to a dispute in these difficult times."

AFCA also said it would allow a 21-day time frame for firms to provide an initial response when a dispute progresses to the case management stage.

The ombudsman's chief executive, David Locke, said AFCA was aware of the difficult circumstances financial firms were facing and would provide a more realistic time frame for parties to work together to resolve a complaint.


"We have worked with ASIC to get an extension to the time financial firms have to respond to complaints that have already been through internal dispute resolution processes," Mr Locke said.

"This extension allows financial firms more time to resolve disputes with their customers, without the need to come to AFCA for an external dispute resolution service.

"This recognises the pressure some parts of the financial services industry are under, with unprecedented levels of customer queries and financial hardship requests. It also gives consumers more realistic expectations about when they will get a response.

"Where the parties are unable to resolve complaints by themselves, the extension provides more time to do things like find the documentation required by AFCA."

AFCA said it anticipated the new arrangements would be in place for six months and would be reviewed and adjusted as appropriate.



Further COVID-19 relief announced for financial firms
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