Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Karen Stevens, says the complaints that the IFSO Scheme receives can help insurers and financial advisers with industry change, following the FMA-RBNZ Life Insurer Conduct and Culture report released last week.
“There is a direct connection between complaints and conduct, and we’ve had 24 years’ experience dealing with complaints,” said Stevens.
“The value for our 4,700 members is in understanding more about what has caused the customer to complain, so they can tackle the root cause – either the product or their performance.”
She said the Scheme can provide insights into the root causes of complaints with their members.
“That means, providing training, sharing data and alerting our members to the issues they can act on,” said Stevens. “The broader aim is for conduct to change, practice to improve, and behaviour that does not prompt complaints.”
She noted more than 28 percent of health, life and disability complaints last year related to non-disclosure.
“While we welcome and await the results of the law review, we know the industry can do more to help customers understand their obligation to disclose and the consequences of failing to do so,” she said.
“While we agree that more plain English insurance policies should be encouraged, consumers should also be made more aware of the need to read and understand them, and financial advisers can definitely do more to educate their clients in this space.”
The IFSO Scheme has upgraded its membership services in response to direct feedback from members with new initiatives including:
- A series of free 15 minutes webinars
- Soft skills training
- Better recording and reporting of data
- Revised complaints process resources and complaint management training
“Our training on managing customer dissatisfaction and complaints is really well received. Effective complaint management is critical in this climate,” said Stevens. “When customer complaints are recognised and responded to early, and managed effectively, everyone wins.”
The IFSO has received positive feedback from advisers about the new, short webinars, especially the examples of real complaints and the processes they can have in place to manage complaints.
About two thirds of IFSO Scheme webinar attendees are financial advisers. Together with hosting their own webinars, the IFSO Scheme provides training in partnership with Financial Advice New Zealand and Professional IQ College.
“Resolving complaints is our core business and we’re doing what we can to turn complaints into shared learning, giving insights to improve conduct across the entire sector.”