Tamsyn Parker

Money Editor for NZ Herald

Complaint awareness needs to improve - FMA

FMA chief executive Rob Everett.
FMA chief executive Rob Everett.

Just one in 10 people know who to complain to if they have a dispute with their bank, insurer or financial adviser - and the boss of New Zealand's financial regulator says that's not good enough.

Rob Everett, chief executive of the Financial Market Authority says there are signs that public confidence in New Zealand's financial markets are improving but is worried that financial service providers lack confidence in the dispute resolution services and consumer awareness of the services is low.

In 2010 it became compulsory for financial service companies to become a member of a dispute resolution provider. Four schemes exist including the Banking Ombudsman which was already established.

But a survey by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment found 60 per cent of financial services providers were unsure of the value that membership to the dispute scheme provided.

More than half were unsure if the scheme produced fair outcomes for complainants and 56 per cent were unsure if they produced fair outcomes for providers.

Everett said those numbers were too high.

"Providers who lack confidence in a system - at least to the degree expressed in the Ministry's survey - are less likely to tell consumers what they are entitled to.

"We have to build confidence in approved dispute resolution - among providers - if consumers are to enjoy the benefits of it."

Read Rob Everett's speech notes here:

The survey also found only one in 10 consumers were able to name at least one financial services dispute resolution agency.

"Service providers and regulators need to work harder to improve consumers' understanding of how complaints are heard and resolved by industry ombudsmen or alternative dispute resolution schemes.

"Consumers need to know what they are entitled to and what recourse they have through dispute resolution schemes, if they feel things have gone wrong."


MAKING A COMPLAINT
*If you have a problem with a financial service provider you can take your complaint to a free dispute resolution service.
*You need to make a complaint to your financial service provider first. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, then you can take your complaint to one of the dispute resolution schemes.
*Dispute resolution is available to any individual consumer or small organisation or small business with 19 or less full-time equivalent employees.
*All financial service providers must belong to a dispute resolution scheme.
*The four schemes are Banking Ombudsman Scheme, Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, Financial Services Complaints, Finance Dispute Resolution Scheme.
*You can find out which scheme your financial services firm belongs to by asking the company or searching this website.

Source: Ministry of Consumer Affairs

- NZ Herald

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