AFCA appoints six new ombudsmen

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has recruited three new Ombudsmen from the banking and insurance sectors, and promoted three others internally, as it starts another busy year of complaints handling.

Louise McAuliffe will join from ANZ and James Taylor from Westpac as Ombudsmen in the Banking and Finance team at AFCA. David Short will join as an Ombudsman in its Insurance team, coming from business insurance service provider BizCover.

McAuliffe is currently Head of Legal, Dispute Resolution Group, for ANZ, Taylor is Practice Leader, Business Lending Legal, at Westpac, and Short is Head of Legal, Risk and Compliance at BizCover.

“It’s terrific that we have been able to secure such skilled and experienced people,” Deputy Chief Ombudsman June Smith said of the external appointments. “Our internal promotions are also testament to the strength of talent already here at AFCA.”

Internally, AFCA has promoted Vicki Carter and Mervyn Silverstein to Ombudsman within the Superannuation team, and Qasim Gilani to Ombudsman in Insurance. Shail Singh has been reappointed as an Ombudsman in Investments and Advice, and Christine McCarthy as an Ombudsman in Insurance. Daniel King has been promoted to an Adjudicator role in Insurance.

The appointments follow the naming of two new Lead Ombudsmen, for Insurance and for Small Business, with Emma Curtis due to join from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Suanne Russell from Westpac in early August. At that point all AFCA’s Lead Ombudsmen will be women.

AFCA, which is a one-stop-shop for consumers and small businesses who have a dispute with their financial firm, has about 100 ombudsmen, adjudicators and panel members. AFCA issued over 5,000 decisions last year.

AFCA received about 70,000 complaints in 2020-21 and expects to handle at least that number again in the coming year. Many complaints are resolved in the early stages of its process, with more complex matters reaching the organisation’s decision makers.

David Short will join AFCA in its Sydney office at the end of August, with James Taylor following in September. Louise McAuliffe will join the Melbourne office in September.

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