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Legal eagles appointed as AFCA’s new ombudsmen

by Alexandra Cain | 29 Apr 2020

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s new (AFCA) ombudsmen say the best measure of their success will actually be a drop in complaints to the independent body.

AFCA is a free service that helps consumers and small businesses with financial disputes across banking, credit, insurance, advice, investments and superannuation.

Heather Gray is taking up a role as superannuation lead ombudsman, while Natalie Cameron has been appointed as investments and advice lead ombudsman. Gray starts on 18 May, while Cameron will take up her position on 22 June.

Gray has more than 30 years’ experience in superannuation, having most recently led law firm Hall & Wilcox’s national superannuation practice. During her impressive career she has spent more than a decade on the Law Council of Australia’s Superannuation Committee, Gray has also provided advice to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Taxation Office and Treasury on super issues. She has also been a director of the legal super fund, Legalsuper.

Cameron has worked for law firm Clayton Utz and has also provided advice to ASIC, where she helped the regulator develop policy. She has also worked for life insurer AIA Australia. Most recently, she has been chief of customer operations for MLC Life Insurance.

Gray says she’s excited to get “hands on” at AFCA. “I’m passionate about super. How the industry protects retirement savings is very important and I’m looking forward to playing my part.

“I’m excited to build on AFCA’s excellent work. Internal dispute resolution is a very important process for super funds. My goal is to reduce the complaints that come to AFCA over time.”

She says she’s excited to work with the AFCA team. “I’ve seen them in action and I’m so impressed with their expertise.”

Cameron notes AFCA has made a real difference to financial services dispute resolution. “The process used to be much longer and more arduous.”

She says her appointment is an opportunity to make a real difference to an industry that, “has been good to me.”

“The financial services royal commission was a moment of clarity. It was clear to me there’s a way to go for the industry to build trust. I have been inspired by the work AFCA is doing in

establishing fairness and helping consumers to get the right outcome. I’m keen to play a part in ensuring due process in financial services.

“I’ve seen first hand what happens if a financial product doesn’t meet customers’ needs in the way they expect and also the difference good advice can make.”

Cameron says she’s looking forward to working with the inspiring industry experts at AFCA. “My colleagues have a real sense of purpose. I’m also passionate about doing good for the community and contributing to the industry.”

Both Gray and Cameron underwent an extensive interview process spanning many months. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, Gray expects she will commence her role working from home. Given she’s not starting until June, Cameron says it’s not yet clear what her working arrangements will be.

In a statement, AFCA chief executive and chief ombudsman David Locke said, “Together, Natalie and Heather bring considerable experience and exceptional knowledge in insurance, superannuation and investments to AFCA. I am delighted to see them join the team and look forward to working with them more closely over the coming months.”

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