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Stop complaints becoming disputes

The adviser didn’t tell me, the adviser misled me, I told the adviser. . . these are the three main complaints levelled against financial advisers, according to Insurance & Savings Ombudsman Karen Stevens.

Wednesday, June 1st 2011, 8:33AM

Speaking at the Life Brokers Association (LBA) conference in Wellington, Stevens outlined how advisers can best deal with complaints to stop them becoming full blown disputes, and emphasised the role of good record keeping, "which going forward is going to be more important."

She said that while the ISO had been in existence for 16 years it has been transformed recently from a membership of 50 insurers to a membership of around 14,000. That transformation has occured now that financial advisers have been required to join a disputes resolution scheme (DRS) as part of the new adviser regulation regime.

Over that period Stevens said the ISO had handled many complaints that involved financial advisers, the most common being ‘the adviser didn't tell me.'

Along with the other two most common complaints; ‘the adviser misled me' and ‘I told  the adviser. . .'  she said all could be combated with a disciplined approach to record keeping.

She also said the best way for an adviser to deal with a complaint was in person.

"You are the best person to sort it out," she said.

She also advocated empowering frontline staff with the ability to handle minor complaints with someone contacting the complainant to ascertain the nature of the complaint, clarify the outcome sought and explain the internal disputes resolution process - a regulatory requirement for all AFAs and ISO members.

For advisers operating alone Stevens advocated the establishment of a peer review system to examine complaints.

She said in the event a complaint was referred to the ISO, they would examine the issue in relation to the Codes of practice and insurance practice. However, before any complaint comes before the ISO it must first be handled by the adviser or their staff, then their own internal DRS.

"Our focus is on complaints made by your customers, trying to resolve them before they become disputes."

 

« Regulation helps advisers battle banksKiwiSaver mismatch a 'huge challenge' for advisers »

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