The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has updated its funding model and fee structure to simplify the structure. The new model is effective from 1 July 2022.
What does this mean for financial firms?
For most firms, the new model should result in lower fees. In August 2022, AFCA finalised all complaint invoices for complaints closed in July 2022. Complaints closed after 1 July 2022 will be charged under the new model. For most financial firms, the result of the new funding model will mean that they only pay the annual registration fee¹. The new user-pays model will see those financial firms with a high volume of complaints contributing more heavily to the funding of AFCA.
The key features of the new model include:
- Five free complaints
AFCA will not impose complaint fees for the first five complaints closed within a financial year. Unforeseen complaints can put a financial burden on your business – especially if you are still in the process of starting up. This change is designed to allow financial firms to address complaints before incurring fees.
- Single annual registration fee
All financial firm members will pay an annual flat fee of $375.55 that is not linked to business size or industry.
- Simplified complaints fees
The new complaint fee structure is designed to reduce complexity and encourage early resolution of complaints by financial firms. You can see the new fee structure here. Most notably, the Registration and Referral fee has been reduced to $75 plus GST, with no fees applying to complaints closed before referral or at the rules assessment stage.
- User pays approach to fees
This change was designed to reduce the burden on businesses that do not use the scheme often. The user charge is calculated based on the number of complaints received by each financial firm, after removing the first five free complaints, and any closed at the Registration and Referral or Rules Assessment stage. A percentage share of the total amount of complaint fees (for all financial firms) is then determined and applied to each member. Further information regarding the calculation of the user charge can be found here.
- Flexible invoicing
For financial firms with a user charge of over $25,000, AFCA now provides the option to adopt a progressive invoicing structure. Financial firms will automatically be charged on a monthly basis, but can elect to be charged quarterly, bi-annually or annually depending on their preference.
AFCA appointed PwC in early 2021 to review its funding model and develop a new model, which was fit for purpose and provided fairer outcomes for financial firm members. Member feedback was sought throughout the process and the new focus on the user-pays model is stated by AFCA² to be reflective of that feedback.