All licensed financial advice providers must be part of an approved Dispute Resolution Scheme. This means they’re required to send complaints to an agreed third party to sort out if your complaint cannot be resolved directly with you.
There are four such schemes in New Zealand and your adviser may be part of any of them – the Banking Ombudsman though, only covers advisers who work for a bank.
The schemes currently providing financial dispute-resolution services are:
While there are some differences between them, they all follow the same principles. You can take a complaint direct to a dispute resolution scheme anytime you want, though they may want to check you’ve tried to resolve the issue directly with your adviser first.
An adviser may also pass on your concern or problem directly to the dispute resolution scheme.
It won’t involve a court hearing – and it won’t cost you any money to take your problem to the service. It is like an arbitration process, where both parties agree to abide by the decision.
While it may help to provide documents and notes to the dispute resolution scheme, the responsibility will be on the adviser to provide all the relevant information.
Any resolution will be confidential and, if resolved in your favour, may result in an apology, compensation that’s capped, or other restitution. A summary of the complaint might be made public, but you won’t be identified. You may not be able to publicly share details - or the result of your complaint.
Taking a complaint to one of these schemes doesn’t shut off any other legal avenues you may want to pursue. And if there’s a problem that may require another authority or regulator to get involved, such as the FMA or the police, then the disputes resolution scheme will let them know.
It’s a good idea to keep documents and records of your dealings with an adviser, but don’t worry if you don’t have much documentation – it’s the job of the adviser to provide details of their interactions with you.
Note: These schemes do not apply if you are a Wholesale Investor.