More than 60 per cent of cases brought to Australia's new one-stop financial complaints authority in its first six months were related to the banks, with credit issues the top concern as complaints soar.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority received more than 35,000 complaints in its first six months of operation, which is 25 per cent ahead of its forecasts and 35 per cent more than the averages seen under previous schemes like the Financial Services Ombudsman.
The "one-stop shop" for financial complaints launched last November and replaced predecessors the Financial Ombudsman Service and Credit and Investments Ombudsman.
About two thirds of the cases involved banking products, followed by 25 per cent insurance complaints and 10 per cent superannuation. Sixty per cent of the complaints lodged so far have been resolved and consumers and small businesses have received settlements totalling $83 million.
Credit cards and complaints about consumer credit profiles topped the tables when it came to banking complaints, with AFCA chief David Locke also pointing to the "dramatic increase in the number of banking and finance complainants that are in financial difficulty".
Close to half of all banking complaints were about credit, including customers complaining about their consumer credit profiles.
More than 3800 people were in financial difficulty in the first six months compared with just over 2000 for the whole of 2018. The authority said it was seeing a "high level of mortgage stress" in Australia.
The authority also noted the prevalence of irresponsible lending claims relating to credit cards, personal and home loans, which are the most complained about banking products in the fallout from the royal commission into banking and financial services.
Small business complaints have more than doubled making up 6 per cent of all cases with a compensation bill so far of $5 million.
Only a very small percentage of complaints are resolved through a binding determination from the authority, with the majority worked out through other means such as conciliation.
Three quarters of the cases saw the customer and financial firm either agreeing on an outcome or through the case being decided in favour of the person who brought the complaint.
More than 70 per cent of banking and finance complaints were most likely to be resolved through agreement or a customer win. Investments and advice had the lowest rate of either agreement or a decision in favour of the complainant, at 59 per cent.
- SMH/The Age