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AFCA appoints new chief ombudsman and CEO

AFCA appoints new chief ombudsman and CEO

A community sector and charities specialist is to become the new chief ombudsman and CEO of the newly formed dispute resolutions body, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

The chair of the board, Helen Coonan, has announced that David Locke will serve as both chief ombudsman and chief executive officer of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) from 25 June.

Mr Locke currently serves as assistant commissioner of charity services at the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), responsible for the regulation of approximately 55,000 charities across the country.

Mr Locke also served as chief adviser to the ACNC taskforce and has managed key functions of the organisation since joining in 2012.

The new appointee previously served as executive director at the Charity Commission of England and Wales, where he was responsible for the strategic leadership and operational delivery of the commission’s one-to-one services to approximately 180,000 charities.

Mr Locke has also worked as an adviser to several international governments on the regulation of non-government organisations. He began his career as a lawyer in the United Kingdom, serving in community legal centres for over 10 years, and has also served on the board of several charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Commenting on Mr Locke’s appointment, Ms Coonan said: “David brings a very strong track record as an experienced senior leader involved in all aspects of establishing and operating complex legal and regulatory service-based organisations in Australia and [the] UK.

“His appointment comes at a critical time in the formation of AFCA as the new single complaints body for the financial sector.
 
“David has worked effectively with stakeholders across the spectrum, from government, regulators, senior management in the business community as well as people with significant vulnerabilities.
 
“He will bring energy and insight to AFCA which is an important organisational response to restore consumer trust and confidence in financial services.”

AFCA is the new financial dispute resolutions body, which amalgamates the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO).

It is designed to serve as a “one-stop shop”, providing consumers and small businesses with access to free, fast and binding dispute resolution for complaints arising from the finance sector.

These will include complaints about financial firms including banks, credit providers, insurance companies and brokers, financial advisers, managed investment schemes and superannuation trustees.

It will operate significantly higher monetary and compensation limits for consumer and small business complainants, as well as provide enhanced access to free dispute resolution for primary producers.

In total, AFCA will be governed by 11 directors, consisting of an equal number of industry and consumer directors.

The directors of the board include:

  • consumer advocate Erin Turner; financial planner Claire Mackay
  • equity lawyer Andrew Fairley
  • lawyer, mediator and experienced advocate for small and medium-sized businesses, Alan Wein
  • insurance veteran and FOS director Robert Belleville
  • financial services executive and FOS director Johanna Turner
  • financial counsellor and FOS director Carmel Franklin; consumer advocate and FOS director Elissa Freeman
  • lawyer and FOS director Catriona Lower
  • NAB general counsel, corporate and governance and FOS director Jennifer Derbyshire

Mr Locke noted that he’s excited to work with AFCA stakeholders to deliver positive outcomes for consumers, small businesses and the financial sector as a whole.

“I am incredibly excited and honoured to be given the opportunity to lead AFCA, work with Helen, the board and the staff from the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal,” Mr Locke said.
 
“With the establishment of AFCA, we will deliver fair, accessible and high-quality dispute resolution services for consumers, small businesses and financial institutions.

“It is critical that there are effective mechanisms in place to deal with disputes across the entire financial services industry, and I will be working to ensure that the public can have full trust and confidence in the new organisation.”

Mr Locke replaces outgoing chief ombudsman of FOS Shane Tregillis, who has served for over almost seven years in the role.

Ms Coonan thanked Mr Tregillis for his service.
 
“Shane has been an outstanding leader at the Financial Ombudsman Service and has been a key driver in the success of the organisation. Shane has also played a vital role in the complex arrangements involved in the successful transition to AFCA,” Ms Coonan said.

[Related: Government appoints AFCA chair]

AFCA appoints new chief ombudsman and CEO
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