Su­per: Vita Palestrant

Su­per fund mem­bers will ben­e­fit from a new one-stop shop for fi­nan­cial com­plaints

Money Magazine Australia - - CONTENTS - Vita Palestrant was ed­i­tor of the Money sec­tion of The Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald and The Age. She has worked on ma­jor news­pa­pers over­seas.

In an ideal world ev­ery­thing runs smoothly and pans out just as you ex­pect it to. But in the real world things can and do go wrong. What, then, do you do if your su­per fund has mis­cal­cu­lated a ben­e­fit, dragged its heels mak­ing a pay­ment or re­fused a dis­abil­ity ben­e­fit?

If you are a mem­ber of a reg­u­lated su­per fund you can lodge a com­plaint with the in­dus­try’s ex­ter­nal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion scheme, the Su­per­an­nu­a­tion Com­plaints Tri­bunal (SCT). Its ser­vice is free and its de­ter­mi­na­tions are bind­ing.

But be­fore you go down that route, you need to give your fund the op­por­tu­nity to fix the prob­lem. That means call­ing or writ­ing to its in­ter­nal com­plaints divi­sion out­lin­ing the com­plaint. The fund has 90 days to re­spond. If the out­come is un­sat­is­fac­tory, go to the SCT.

“All su­per funds, by law, are re­quired to have in­ter­nal dis­pute pro­cesses. It’s of­ten quicker and eas­ier to get a good out­come this way,” says Ger­ard Brody, CEO of the Con­sumer Ac­tion Law Cen­tre. “If that op­tion doesn’t re­solve your com­plaint then you have the right to go to ex­ter­nal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion. Cur­rently that is the SCT but that will change to the Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Com­plaints Au­thor­ity from Novem­ber this year.”

To take your com­plaint to the scheme you need to fill in a form out­lin­ing the de­tails: why you think your fund’s de­ci­sion is un­fair, any con­se­quences or loss you’ve suf­fered and the out­come you are af­ter. Brody says gen­er­ally su­per funds hold most of the rel­e­vant doc­u­men­ta­tion so the onus is on them to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion to the dis­pute fo­rum.

Con­sumer ad­vo­cates have long sup­ported the cre­ation of a one-stop shop for fi­nan­cial com­plaints. They say AFCA will be more user friendly and ef­fi­cient. In ad­di­tion, the cor­po­rate watch­dog, ASIC, will get early warn­ings on sys­temic is­sues that arise in the sec­tor. AFCA will re­place three ex­ist­ing schemes – the SCT, the

Fi­nan­cial Om­buds­man Ser­vice and the Credit and In­vest­ments

Om­buds­man – and com­mence op­er­at­ing on Novem­ber 1.

SCT’s chair­per­son,

He­len Davis, says it will work to­wards a smooth tran­si­tion, “which is es­sen­tial for cur­rent and fu­ture com­plainants”. It will ac­cept com­plaints un­til Oc­to­ber 31 and then con­tinue op­er­at­ing be­yond that date to re­solve ex­ist­ing com­plaints.

Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Fi­nan­cial Coun­selling Aus­tralia, says the SCT will adopt the prin­ci­ples of ex­ist­ing schemes of ac­ces­si­bil­ity, in­de­pen­dence and fair­ness. “FCA and other con­sumer or­gan­i­sa­tions have sup­ported a one-stop shop dis­pute-res­o­lu­tion body. Hav­ing su­per dis­putes as part of that is a pos­i­tive step. The cur­rent SCT has huge de­lays and with the new fund­ing model they may not be starved of re­sources in the way they have been in the past.”

Brody agrees. “The pri­mary ben­e­fit for fund mem­bers is that AFCA should be bet­ter re­sourced to re­solve dis­putes more quickly. With the SCT at the mo­ment it can take two, even three, years for a dis­pute to go through the process to be­come a de­ter­mi­na­tion.

“That’s be­cause it hasn’t been funded that well un­der the gov­ern­ment. Now, un­der AFCA, the in­dus­try pays for the cost of dis­pute res­o­lu­tion. There will be a fee as­so­ci­ated with ev­ery com­plaint from the user-pays sys­tem. That way, if there are a lot of com­plaints, it will still be suf­fi­ciently re­sourced to do its job.”

It also pro­vides su­per funds with an in­cen­tive to re­solve com­plaints in­ter­nally rather than leave dis­grun­tled fund mem­bers to seek re­dress ex­ter­nally. In the wake of the royal com­mis­sion that is good news in­deed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.