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ASIC releases final updated guidance on complaints handling

ASIC has released updated requirements for how financial firms deal with consumer and small business complaints – under its Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) procedures.

ASIC releases final updated guidance on complaints handling
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  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • July 30, 2020
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ASIC has released Regulatory Guide 271 Internal dispute resolution (RG 271) after extensive consultation with consumer and industry representatives, to drive fair and timely complaint outcomes and sharpen industry’s focus on systemic issues.

"Complaints handling is the first step in the dispute resolution framework and plays a critical role for firms to restore consumer trust when things have gone wrong. A financial firm’s approach to complaints handling is a meaningful measure of how it treats its customers and listens to their voice," said ASIC deputy chair Karen Chester.

"Most financial firms, like us, want to see positive complaint management cultures that welcome complaints and focus on fairness, quality and timeliness in how they are handled. Better IDR not only benefits consumers and small business, it arms the boards of financial firms with rich and real-time data on the customer experience and whether their needs are being met or not."

ASIC's updated requirements introduce reduced time frames for responding to complaints, including superannuation complaints; set out what information firms must include in written IDR responses to allow consumers to decide whether to escalate their complaint; set new time frame requirements for customer advocate reviews of appeals against IDR decisions; and give guidance about how firms can deal with representatives who are not acting in consumers’ best interests.

"At this time of economic uncertainty, consumer access to fair and timely complaints handling is more important than ever," Ms Chester said.

"Making it right when consumers have suffered loss is an important way to stimulate ongoing consumer participation and trust in the financial system. New requirements recognising the harm that can be done by some debt management firms will also assist in addressing long-standing concerns about their behaviour which are shared by industry and consumer representatives."

ASIC has given industry until 5 October 2021 to comply with the new IDR standards and requirements. 

In the coming months, ASIC will conduct further consultation on the IDR data reporting regime, which was recommended by the Ramsay Review into dispute resolution and complaints framework and passed into legislation in 2018. 

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