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AFCA appoints 6 new ombudsmen

The complaints authority has recruited three new ombudsmen (including from ANZ and Westpac), and promoted three others internally.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has appointed three new ombudsmen from the banking and insurance sectors.

Louise McAuliffe will join AFCA from ANZ in the Melbourne office, while James Taylor will join from Westpac in the Sydney office.

Both Ms McAuliffe and Mr Taylor will join as ombudsmen in AFCA’s banking and finance team in September.

David Short will join as an ombudsman in AFCA’s insurance team from business insurance service provider BizCover. He will join the Sydney office at the end of August.

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Ms McAuliffe has extensive experience as a banking and finance lawyer and is currently head of legal, dispute resolution group at ANZ, where she is the escalation point for complex customer concerns.

She has worked in the ANZ legal team for the past 14 years, and progressed to her current role in 2015. She was closely involved in ANZ’s response to the banking royal commission.

Mr Taylor is currently practice leader, business lending legal at Westpac, where he leads a team of 11 lawyers providing legal support for all project, policy, commercial and transactional aspects of Westpac’s business bank.

Before joining Westpac in 2017, he was head counsel, country banking legal, at Rabobank.

Mr Short is currently head of legal, risk and compliance at BizCover. He has over 25 years’ experience across insurance, both in-house as general counsel at Chubb Insurance and in private practice as a partner at Ebsworth and Ebsworth, Hall and Wilcox, and Meridian Lawyers.

Internally, AFCA has promoted Vicky Carter and Mervyn Silverstein to ombudsmen within the superannuation team, and Qasim Gilani to ombudsman in insurance.

Daniel King has been promoted to an adjudicator role in insurance.

Shail Singh has been reappointed as ombudsman in investment and advice, while Christine McCarthy has been reappointed as ombudsman in insurance.

Commenting on the internal and external appointments, AFCA deputy chief ombudsman June Smith said: “It’s terrific that we have been able to secure such skilled and experienced people.

“Our internal promotions are also testament to the strength of talent already here at AFCA.”

The latest appointments have followed the complaints agency recruiting Emma Curtis from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) as lead ombudsman, insurance, and Susanne Russell from Westpac as new lead ombudsman for small business, with both due to begin their new roles in August.

At that point, all of AFCA’s lead ombudsmen will be women, according to AFCA.

Earlier this year, AFCA appointed chancellor of the Swinburne University of Technology and chair of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, John Pollaers as AFCA chair.

The complaints body issued over 5,000 decisions in 2020, and received about 70,000 complaints in 2020-21, and expects to handle at least as many complaints again in the coming year.

Many complaints are resolved in the early stages of its process, with more complex matters reaching the organisation’s decision-makers.

[Related: AFCA recruits from ASIC, Westpac]

AFCA appoints 6 new ombudsmen
AFCA appoints 6 new ombudsmen
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