ASIC has responded to dissatisfaction with its turnaround time of responding to complaints by changing its guidelines on the licensee complaints process, and licensees will need to act urgently to comply.
With recent changes to Regulatory Guide 165 all Australian Financial Services Licensees (AFSLs) must now acknowledge client complaints immediately, regardless of the form in which they are given, and resolve problems in tighter, prescribed timeframes.
Charmian Holmes, The Fold Legal solicitor director said that, “AFSLs need to adjust their current internal dispute resolution system for retail clients to comply with the new requirements.” In order to encourage licensees to act with a sense of urgency, Holmes said that,” ASIC has always expected complaints to be dealt with genuinely, promptly, fairly and consistently but they have now changed the timeframes for dealing with complaints and “licensees should not be complacent, as the new guidelines require written acknowledgement of the client’s complaint as soon as it is received.”
The new guidelines mean that the licensee can no longer wait for 24 to 48 hours to acknowledge a complaint, it must be reported immediately and “licensees cannot force the client to put a complaint in writing. If the current system does not comply with these requirements, the system has to be changed.”