The Financial Industry Complaints Service (FICS) has responded to criticism over the transparency of its decision-making process by putting a series of decision-maker forums on the agenda for 2008.

The external complaints resolution scheme hopes to improve member engagement and understanding, with the inaugural forum to be held on February 29 in Sydney.

“Improving confidence in the dispute resolution practices for financial planners would be a very good outcome for FICS, FPA members and consumers,” says Jo-Anne Bloch, FPA chief executive.

“It is critical that processes are transparent, and can be understood by all parties to the complaints system.”

FICS national panel chair Michael Arnold and panel chair Dick Viney will lead the first forum, giving members an opportunity to discuss issues relating to FICS determinations with those at the helm.

The Australian Consumers’ Association (Choice) has been calling for FICS to raise its financial compensation cap on complaints to $280,000, arguing the current cap of $150,000 leaves many investors without a means for redress. (See Consumer Insight, page 19)

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