Dispute Resolution Policy
Foresight Analytics and Ratings Pty Ltd (Foresight Analytics or the Company) is a research house operating in Australia. It holds an Australian Financial Services Licence to assign investment ratings, ESG rating, OCA and produce research reports to the funds management and financial advisory markets. Its service is the assessment of the investment risk of a managed investment scheme or investment product. It also assigns a product complexity to provide an indication of the complexity of a financial product.
The procedures adopted by Foresight Analytics for handling complaints and queries are flexible and robust in order to provide confidence to its clients, the public, and stakeholders. Foresight Analytics is committed to effective and efficient complaints handling and believes that a strong commitment to responding to complaints will allow both personnel and clients to contribute to the improvement of Foresight Analytics’ financial services and processes. It is also committed to provide adequate resources to ensure complaints handling process is adequate, efficient and continually improved.
This policy has been based on the requirements of Australian Financial Complaints Authority or ‘AFCA’ a new external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme to deal with complaints from consumers in the financial system. Importantly, AFCA replaces the three existing EDR schemes of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) so that consumers have access to a single EDR scheme.
1.2 Purpose of this Policy
The purpose of this policy is to provide resources of Foresight Analytics with the correct procedures in relation to handling, recording and monitoring complaints received from clients and stakeholders.
Foresight Analytics staff must always be conscious that, although the party raising an issue may not be covered by ASIC or other regulatory requirements, the issue raised may well have an impact on such a party and, therefore, must be handled accordingly.
Complaints should be dealt with at the earliest possible stage as doing so:
- prevents complaints from becoming entrenched;
- preserves customer relationships; and
- is often the most efficient and cost effective way of dealing with complaints.
1.3 Corporations Act Requirements
Section 912A(1)(g) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) requires all AFS Licence holders who provide financial services to retail clients to maintain a dispute resolution system which complies with section 912A(2), as follows:
“(2) To comply with this subsection, a dispute resolution system must consist of:
(a) an internal dispute resolution procedure that:
(i) complies with standards, and requirements, made or approved by ASIC in accordance with regulations made for the purposes of this subparagraph; and
(ii) covers complaints against the licensee made by retail clients in connection with the provision of all financial services covered by the licence; and
(b) membership of one or more external dispute resolution schemes that:
(i) is, or are, approved by ASIC in accordance with regulations made for the purposes of this subparagraph; and
(ii) covers, or together cover, complaints against the licensee made by retail clients in connection with the provision of all financial services covered by the licence.”
This policy constitutes Foresight Analytics’ Internal Dispute Resolution, while its External Dispute Resolution scheme membership is maintained with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority or ‘AFCA’, a new external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme to deal with complaints from consumers in the financial system.
1.4 What is a “complaint”?
A complaint is an “expression of dissatisfaction made to an organisation, related to its products, or the complaints-handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected”.
Where there is any doubt as to whether a communication received (either verbally or in writing) constitutes a formal complaint, it should be reported as an incident to the Compliance Manager, who will make further investigations, and classify the incident as a complaint or otherwise.
As a general rule, complaints from parties not covered by ASIC and regulatory requirements should be handled in the same manner, regardless of source. Complaint recording procedures and systems will make the necessary distinctions.
2.DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS
2.1 Initial Response
All complaints, whether they are written or verbal are to be communicated to the Compliance Manager immediately, or as soon as practicable, on receipt of the complaint. Upon receipt of the complaint:
- The Compliance Manager is to respond to the complainant immediately orally or in writing, advising that their expression of dissatisfaction has been received and will be responded to in line with this policy;
- The Compliance Manager will record the complaint in the Register of Complaint outlining details of the complaint, the reporting entity and any action that has taken to date;
- The Compliance Manager assigns the responsibility of managing the complaint to the appropriate persons.
The Compliance Manager maintains a register of all complaints, and reports at least quarterly to the Board on all complaints received during the preceding quarter.
The responsibility for acknowledging complaints in the first instance rests with the Compliance Manager, or in his absence, a staff member who has been delegated such duty or the Compliance Consultant.
All complaints must be acknowledged immediately, and in any event, within 24 hours.
If a client requires assistance in making a complaint, reasonable assistance should be provided free of charge.
Foresight Analytics maintains membership with an independent, external dispute resolution service approved by Australian Financial Complaints Authority or ‘AFCA’. Its membership number is 39713.
Each client is advised in the response letter that if they are not satisfied with the explanation provided, they may lodge their complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The Compliance Manager notifies the Board of any complaints referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
3. PROCESS & ADMINISTRATION
Where a complaint constitutes or indicates a breach of any Foresight Analytics compliance procedures or policies, the matter must be reported immediately to the Compliance Manager and handled accordingly.
3.1 Complaints Process
The Compliance Manager:
- must be notified of all complaints within the timeframes outlined in Section 2.
- will review the complaint immediately on receipt, assess the complaint in terms of criteria such as severity, complexity, impact, and the need and possibility of immediate action, and will assign it to the appropriate staff member for action, if appropriate;
- will record the complaint in the Register of Complaint.
- The Register will include the following information:
(i) Date the complaint was received;
(ii) Product / Issuer rated;
(iii) Complainant’s name;
(iv) Complaint details;
(v) Actions taken to date (if any);
(vi) Requested remedy and due date for response; and
(vii) Cause of complaint.
The Compliance Manager:
- may attempt to resolve the complaint. At first instance, this could include a meeting with the complainant to discuss issues relevant to the complaint, and explore possibilities for resolution;
- monitors all complaints until they are resolved;
- reports to the Management Committee on at least quarterly basis on all new complaints; and
- evaluates the complaints handling procedure at least annually.
Each complaint should be addressed in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner. Furthermore, all complaints should be classified and then analysed to identify systematic, recurring and single incident problems and trends, and to help eliminate the underlying causes of complaints.
It is the responsibility of the Compliance Manager, with assistance from the relevant director, or, if applicable, an external service provider such as compliance consultant, to ensure that complaints are satisfactorily resolved in a timely manner. The Compliance Manager and the relevant directors must use their best endeavours to resolve the complaints as soon as practicable by:
- communicating with the client in a positive and conciliatory manner;
- addressing all issues that were raised in the complaint;
- ensuring that all answers are accurate and understood;
- giving clear and concise reasons for the decision reached;
- keeping comprehensive notes on the progress of the complaint, including file notes on conversations; and
- liaising with external and internal personnel, where appropriate.
Where possible, decisions should be communicated in writing and should refer to applicable provisions in legislation, codes, standards or procedures. The written decisions should be clear, concise and effective, and avoid the use of legal or industry jargon which may be seen to confuse the client.
3.3 File Records
A copy of all correspondence and other relevant documentation is to be retained by the Compliance Manager.
Depending on the nature of the complaint, Foresight Analytics may offer the following remedies to the affected clients as part of the resolution of complaint:
- Technical assistance;
- Referral to another service provider;
- Financial assistance;
- Goodwill gift or token;
- Indication of changes in process, policy or procedure arising from the complaint.
- Professional indemnity insurance for an amount of at least $ 5 million.
The approval of the Managing Director is required in respect of monetary compensation. When assessing the extent of loss or damage, consideration will be given to the relevant legal principles, codes of conduct, concepts of fairness and industry best practice. The Compliance Manager may obtain external legal advice on issues of liability, and assessment of damages.
As a minimum, Foresight Analytics will have the following compensation arrangements in place:
All complaints must be recorded in the Complaints Register by the Compliance Manager.
The Compliance Manager will monitor all complaints and report their status at least quarterly to the Board.
The Compliance Manager must investigate all complaints, assist with reaching a decision on the course of action, and ensure that the decision is communicated to the client within 45 days of the complaint being made.
On notifying the client of the decision, the client must be made aware that if they are not satisfied with the outcome, they may refer the complaint to Foresight Analytics’ external dispute resolution scheme, namely:
Australian Financial Complaints Authority Limited
GPO Box 3
Melbourne, VIC 3001
Tel: 1800 931 678, 1300 56 55 62 Fax:(03) 9613 6399
If a longer period is required, the client must be notified by Foresight Analytics, within the initial 45 day period, of the reason why a decision cannot be made within that period. The client must also be advised that:
- if they are not satisfied with the reason given, then they may contact AFCA. A decision by AFCA will then be made as to whether a longer period is warranted and, if so, how much time Foresight Analytics will be given to make a decision before AFCA will proceed with an application; and
- If the client is not satisfied with the reason given and does not receive a response from Foresight Analytics within 45 days, then they may proceed to lodge a complaint directly with AFCA.
3.7 Systemic and Recurring Problems
A systemic problem is one that is caused by failures in the product or service design, delivery systems or organisational policies or procedures. They are often identified because of their recurring nature.
In reporting complaints, the Compliance Manager or person raising the complaint must analyse their origination and determine the root cause to assist with the corrective actions.
If systemic or recurring, they should be classified as such when completing the Register of Complaints. The Compliance Manager must take immediate steps to rectify any systemic or recurring problems.
If a complaint results from a breach of Foresight Analytics’ AFS License obligations, the Corporations Act or other regulatory requirements, that breach must be treated in accordance with the requirements of the breach reporting policy.
If the action taken/decision made is believed to have satisfied/resolved the complaint, the matter will be considered resolved.
Where possible, and particularly in circumstances where compensation is paid, the Compliance Manager should, where relevant, attempt to have the complainant sign a Deed of Release, which acknowledges that the dispute has been resolved, and releases Foresight Analytics from any liability in connection with the dispute/complaint.
3.9 Notification of Dispute Resolution Process
Foresight Analytics must ensure that a copy of its Financial Services Guide is given to a retail client before any financial service is provided. The FSG will contain details about how clients can make a complaint and access the External Dispute Resolution scheme.
Primary responsibility for complaints handling procedures and for dealing with AFCA rests with the Compliance Manager under the supervision of the Managing Director.
Foresight Analytics must ensure that the personal information is collected and used strictly for the purpose of addressing the complaint within the organisation, and the personal information should be actively protected from disclosure, unless the client has consented to its disclosure or the disclosure is required by law.
AFSL: 494552 ABN: 95 616 254 294