The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has hired Emma Curtis, a senior executive leader for insurers at ASIC, to take the role of lead ombudsman, insurance.
She will take over from John Price, who is stepping down after 17 years as a senior decision-maker with AFCA and its predecessor consumer complaint schemes. Mr Price will continue in a part-time role.
Meanwhile, Susanne Russell will be the new lead ombudsman for small business, having previously been head of business bank legal at Westpac.
Ms Russell had worked in law firms before moving to St.George Bank, then Westpac as a corporate counsel. She had been head of institutional and business banking legal for St.George Bank for a decade, before her most recent role as practice leader for business banking at Westpac, where she provided support for SME and business banking.
Her new small business ombudsman role, focused on consumer complaints in the financial services sector, is distinct from the Australian small business and family enterprise ombudsman.
Ms Russell will join AFCA on 2 August, while Ms Curtis is set to take up her new job on 9 August.
AFCA chief ombudsman David Locke said Ms Curtis and Ms Russell will bring “significant financial sector and legal experience”.
“They will add great diversity and depth of experience to our leadership team,” Mr Locke said.
Ms Curtis has worked as a regulator for more than 10 years, having been in financial services law and governance for around 25 years in total.
She developed ASIC’s standalone insurance supervision team in her most recent role, after being joint acting executive director of ASIC’s financial services group through the 2019-20 bushfires and the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFCA has five lead ombudsmen, who are responsible for its approach to decision making. They head teams totalling more than 80 ombudsmen and adjudication panel members across the four areas for complaints they cover in financial services: banking and finance, investments and advice, insurance and superannuation.
In addition to Ms Russell and Ms Curtis, the other lead ombudsmen are Evelyn Halls (banking and finance), Natalie Cameron (investments and advice) and Heather Gray (superannuation).
The new appointments have followed the recent commencement of AFCA’s new chair, John Pollaers, a former adviser to the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce and chair of the federal government’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.
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Sarah Simpkins is the news editor across Mortgage Business and The Adviser.
Previously, she reported on banking, financial services and wealth for InvestorDaily and ifa.