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New Financial Assistance Hub

New voice for customers in complaints with banks

30 September 2016

Sydney, 30 September 2016: The banking industry has today announced the guiding principles which will govern how banks help to make it easier for customers to resolve complaints. 

“Many people feel they cannot take on the might of a bank when something goes wrong. This must change,” Australian Bankers’ Association Executive Director – Retail Policy Diane Tate said.

“As part of the industry’s six point reform plan, banks are appointing dedicated customer advocates who will have the power to go to the CEO and senior executives if they think the bank is not fixing problems properly.

“They will be able to ensure the bank better understands where the customer is coming from,” she said.

“In an ideal world problems wouldn’t happen; but that’s not reality. So, it is important that customers trust their bank to resolve issues fairly and in the quickest time possible.” 

The guiding principles are intended to help banks appoint their customer advocate and ensure the role is performed effectively.

Ms Tate said customers would benefit differently depending on their needs. 

“The customer advocate may help directly resolve a complaint, escalate significant complaints to the top, or, help people to seek external resolution if they aren’t satisfied with the bank’s response,” she said.

“They may help the bank set up a remediation program to resolve a problem that impacts a group of customers, and make sure the program runs smoothly.

“The customer advocate should also bring to light any systemic issues with how banks handle complaints to minimise the likelihood of future problems.”

The guiding principles recognise the importance of improving complaints handling for vulnerable or disadvantaged customers, including customers with a disability or those experiencing financial hardship. 

“Each bank will decide how best to embed the new customer advocate role into their existing processes. But at the end of the day, customers can expect to have a greater voice when getting any problems resolved with their bank,” Ms Tate said.

The ABA’s reform plan contains comprehensive new initiatives to protect customers when things go wrong and stop things going wrong in the first place. These initiatives include an independent review of pay structures that put staff incentives ahead of customer needs, and enhanced protections for whistleblowers.

A copy of the customer advocate guiding principles is available on the ABA website

ENDS

Contact: Stephanie Arena 0477 470 677 or Nic Frankham 0435 963 913

@austbankers

bankers.asn.au

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