Today’s announcement by the Australian Bankers Association (ABA) highlighting changes to the ‘Code of Banking Practice’ showing improved consumer rights is welcomed by the National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI).
Consumers have for many years been concerned that banks in Australia may not act in their customer’s best interest and felt that banks need to be more transparent and fairer to consumers. The revision of code of banking practice sets out the commitment banks have made to their customers whether personal or small businesses.
The ABA state that the improvements to the code came after an extensive independent review and consultation with consumer groups and other relevant stakeholders which NICRI was involved.
NICRI, which provides free and independent financial information to consumers receives calls on a regular basis about banks, banking products and their rights when dealing with banks.
NICRI CEO Wendy Schilg says, ‘Enhancements to the code such as those that strengthen consumer protection and recourse, will help Australians to be confident that they will be treated fairly and transparently. This is especially important to our main demographic of callers who have retired or are leading into retirement and require reassurance that the banking industry is looking after their retirement savings.’
Changes to the code include, enhancements to processes involved when dealing with financial hardship, a commitment to provide low cost or low fee banking information when dealing with those who may receive Government Income Support or concessions, providing clarification of dispute processes including potential recourse and streamlining of banking for those in remote indigenous communities.
‘It is important that the changes enhance protection and assistance to those most vulnerable’, added Schilg. Those that feel that the code has been breached or that the bank did not meet the codes expectation have a right to complain to the organisation and if applicable, the external dispute resolution schemes available.
The changes to the code will come into effect by 1 February 2014 and according to the ABA, all it’s signatories have signed up and will implement the required changes to their systems, process and documentation by then.
NICRI supports any measures by the finance industry to strengthen consumer protection.
NICRI has a range of free publications available and consumers can call 1800 020110 number 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday for free independent information.
Contact: Craig Hall ph: 02 62809977 or email@example.com
To view the ABA media release click here.. http://www.bankers.asn.au/Media/Media-Releases/Media-Release-2013/Improved-Code-of-Banking-Practice
The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments Inc (NICRI) is a government funded, independent consumer agency providing information to the general public on investment products.
In the past consumers who wished to make a complaint about issues relating to their finances have had a number of schemes to choose from depending on the nature of the complaint. The services available to consumers included the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman, Financial Industry Complaints Service and the Insurance Ombudsman Service. Other external complaints resolution schemes covered under the scheme include the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and the Credit Union Dispute Resolution Centre.
From July 1st 2008 these schemes have merged so that consumers now have a single reference point. It means that consumers who have complaints regarding their finances do not need to find and determine which resolution scheme is able to assist them with their complaint. The merged resolution scheme is now referred to as the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and is approved by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
The FOS is an independent organisation offering free and accessible dispute resolution services and cover areas associated with the following.
When lodging a complaint certain procedures need to be taken depending on the nature of the complaints for example, if a consumer has a complaint about a financial services provider the first course of action is to raise the dispute with the provider in writing. Under the FOS terms of reference for Investment, life insurance and superannuation the financial service provider has 45 days to respond tothe consumer. If that does not satisfactorily resolve the dispute the consumer can then call FOS where it will be determined if the dispute is within its jurisdiction.
If the dispute falls within FOS’s jurisdiction the consumer will need to complete a Dispute form and provide any other documentation relevant to the case. FOS will write to the provider to seek a written report on the matters surrounding the dispute and the financial services provider then has 21 days to contact the consumer to attempt to resolve the dispute. If no resolution has been met at this point the matter is taken up by the FOS in an attempt to resolve the matter through conciliation and negotiation.
If at this point the no resolution has been reached then a FOS panel may need to determine if further action is taken such as through the courts.
More information on the process of dispute resolution can be sought from FOS. They can be contacted by phoning 1300 780 808, writing to Financial Ombudsman Service GPO Box 3, Melbourne VIC 3001 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to acting on information provided in our articles, NICRI strongly recommends you confirm details in relation to your personal circumstances with any relevant government department.
If you require further information on complaints resolution or any investment product please contact NICRI toll free on 1800 020110, email email@example.com or write to PO Box 1339, Fyshwick ACT 2609. Our information leaflets including Complaints Resolution Schemes are also available on our websites www.nicri.org.au ©and http://moneymap.nicri.org.au.