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Quarterly compliance update December 2021


All licensees must ensure that their Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) process now complies with ASIC RG 271 (effective 5 October 2021).

The main changes include:

  1. Reducing maximum time frames for IDR responses from 45 to 30 days (now within your new FSGs).
  2. Expanding the definition of complaint to include expressions of dissatisfaction made ‘to or about’ an organisation including on a firm’s own social media platform(s).  This is in line with the definition in AS/NZS 10002:2014.
  3. Requiring all firms to record an identifier or case reference number (unique to that complaint) for each complaint received.
  4. Core requirements will become enforceable.  ASIC intends to issue a legislative instrument that will have the effect of making the core IDR requirements set out in RG 165 enforceable.
What is a complaint?

AS/NZS 10002:2014 sets out the following definition of ‘complaint’ at p.6: [An expression] of dissatisfaction made to or about an organisation, related to its products, services, staff or the handling of a complaint, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected or legally required.

A response or resolution is ‘explicitly expected’ if a consumer clearly requests it. It is ‘implicitly expected’ if the consumer raises the expression of dissatisfaction in a way that implies the consumer reasonably expects the firm to respond and/or take specific action.

A consumer or small business is not required to expressly state the word ‘complaint’ or ‘dispute’, or put their complaint in writing, to trigger a financial firm’s obligation to deal with a matter according to our IDR requirements.

Financial firms should not categorise an expression of dissatisfaction that meets the definition of ‘complaint’ as ‘feedback’, an ‘inquiry’, a ‘comment’ or similar (and therefore not to be dealt with in the firm’s IDR process) merely because:

  1. The complainant expresses their dissatisfaction verbally
  2. The firm considers that the matter does not have merit; or
  3. A goodwill payment is made to the complainant to resolve the matter without any admission of error
What to do with the complaint?

Complaints can be received via various methods of communication.  You should have simple and accessible arrangements for making complaints. Complaints do not need to be in writing. However, it is recommended that all complaints, once received, are confirmed formally in writing and signed by the client.

Within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, the details should be entered into the Client Complaints Register.  An identifier or case reference number, unique to that complaint, will also be recorded once the complaint is received.

Within 24 hours or one business day of receipt, the client should be informed verbally or in writing. Notify the professional indemnity insurers, if appropriate. If the Complaints Officer meets with the client, they are to calmly discuss the situation and take detailed file notes of the conversation that takes place.  At no time should liability be admitted during discussions with the client.

What you need to do as the Adviser?

Contact the Head of Corporate Governance to ensure that you receive a Client ID Number and have this recorded in the Complaints Register within 24 hours of the complaint.  It is paramount that things are discussed or recorded immediately to ensure that it is addressed within the timeframe.

If in any doubt, please contact me immediately. Even if you do not think it is a complaint, it’s always best to discuss.


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