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New course to improve complaint resolution

A new Massey University course is set to improve complaint resolution within the insurance and financial services industry.

Tuesday, May 23rd 2023, 11:18AM

by Kerry Meadows-Bonner

Until now, there has been limited formal training available in complaint response for providers of insurance and financial services. That’s set to change with a new course launched by Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University’s Financial Education and Research (Fin-Ed) Centre, with content from the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO) scheme.

The Complaint Response and Management course has been curated using case studies and complaint resources from the IFSO. The short course is suitable for all roles in financial services, consumer-facing and management, and those seeking a career in New Zealand financial services.

IFSO strategic partnerships manager Andrew Gunn says while the course is not compulsory, financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies are required, under the CoFI Act, to implement fair conduct programmes by 2025.

“The IFSO scheme sought a collaboration project with Massey University to make available a 5-credit short course, at level 5 equivalent, to meet the skills needed in complaint response and management.

“This short course is a very timely and real way to apply the lessons learnt from the IFSO scheme experience in complaint resolution and treating complainants fairly and can practically inform changes to their fair conduct programmes and upskill their teams.” says Gunn.

Ombudsman Karen Stevens says, “With ongoing legislative change for insurance and financial services there is an increased focus on fair conduct, which means treating customers fairly and looking after those in vulnerable circumstances. This course will provide the formal training necessary to equip those on the front line and in customer care roles, enabling providers to achieve better outcomes for their customers.”

The IFSO scheme receives approximately 3,000 complaints a year on insurance and other financial services. Together with formally investigating and resolving around 300 complaints a year, the scheme works to help financial service providers improve their internal complaint handling processes.

Prevention of complaints through ongoing education in partnership with the IFSO scheme is just as important as good complaints handling, says Gunn.

As to why there has been no formal industry training to date, Gunn says fair complaint resolution is core to the purpose of the IFSO scheme, however the IFSO commission has had a strategic emphasis on complaint prevention and providing financial service providers the tools for internal resolution.

“The IFSO scheme has built an impressive case study database and webinar library to assist in professional development (PD) of its participants. This initiative takes the next step and partners the IFSO scheme’s expertise with Massey University Fin-Ed Centre to upskill the sector in a formal manner, tackling relevant complaint topics in insurance, lending and financial advice.”

Soft skills

Fin-Ed Centre director Dr Pushpa Wood says the course will meet a growing need in the industry.

“People within the profession are often not equipped with the soft skills to deal with complaints, especially the more complex complaints made by people in vulnerable circumstances. The course can be completed online and started at any time.

Together with the four core modules, there are five tailored elective courses for compliance and conduct: financial adviser and nominated representatives, general insurance, personal risk and lending teams,” she says

Kieran Stott, manager of operations and compliance debt managers, has already enrolled his team in the course.

‘’With many new legislative changes within the finance and insurance industries, it is very important that our team not only know our legal requirements when dealing with customers but can apply them in an empathetic and professional manner in an everyday setting.”

For IFSO scheme participants there is a $300 early bird incentive ($390+GST) and for non-members, an $200 early bird incentive until June 30, 2023, ($490+GST–normally $690+GST).

He says during the year the IFSO scheme facilitates monthly “pastoral support” zoom meetings to help ‘learners in the workplace’ with a chance to talk about the online, on demand modules within the course.

“Importantly these optional meetings provide an informal platform to share key course insights and feedback. There was very positive feedback at this week’s pastoral support meeting around the content and structure of the course, that it has something for everyone, whether they are in a compliance and claims role or advice positions,” he says.

“We thought it very important to structure a course to fit into the time available to adult learners and provide appropriate support and motivation.”

Tags: Massey University

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