It has recently been announced that a new financial authority is to be set up to be the one stop shop for financial complaints, which is to be called the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. (ACFA) It will replace the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, the Credit and Investment Ombudsman and the Financial Ombudsman Service. This article will be focusing on what it means for Superannuation, which has been overseen by the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT), since the 1st of July 1994, following the introduction of the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act of 1993. The SCT will continue to accept complaints until October 31st 2018, with ACFA accepting new complaints from November 1st. The SCT will continue to operate on all cases it has accepted and there will be no transfer between the two organisations. A complaint withdrawn from SCT will not be able to be subsequently lodged with ACFA.
Financial organisations will need to become members of ACFA by September 21st, 2018, with details on the process for membership application to be outlined shortly. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission issued a statement saying ACFAs establishment as a single scheme for all financial services and superannuation complaints was a very positive development, which should provide fair, timely and effective dispute resolution, and bring higher standards and better outcomes, for tens of thousands of Australians every year.
Changes in dispute resolution.
For the immediate future, things will remain effectively as they are in terms of how you actually bring a superannuation dispute to either body. ACFA will be in operation before ASIC begins consultations on new standards and mandatory reporting requirements. Current legislation will continue to apply until such time as new policy is introduced.
Filing new complaints
If you have a complaint you want to bring in the meantime then you should for the time being do so in exactly the manner in which it was previously done. The legislation is quite complex, so employing the services of a legal professional, specializing in superannuation is generally a good idea. Claims are generally broken down into four main areas. Income Protection Insurance, Accidental Death Benefit, Critical Illness and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD). If you are injured or become sick, some funds offer income protection and can be issued weekly for 1 to 5 years. Death benefits from a Supers fund can be significant and the chances are that your loved one had a fund. Designed to give protection to the family or beneficiaries, in case of untimely death, it is advisable to make the right inquiries to determine the value of the policy and confirm your right to make a claim. If you are off work and unable to return, you may be able to file a TPD claim, which could be worth a very significant amount of money.
For any complaint, it is definitely a good idea to consult your local superannuation legal professional. Most will assess your policy and claim free of charge and if you have a good case will file a claim for you on a no win, no fee basis, meaning the process is essentially risk free. A strong team of lawyers will probably more than pay for themselves in terms of the return.