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Financial counsellors welcome today’s announcement of court proceedings concerning unconscionable conduct by Telstra against Indigenous customers

Financial counsellors around Australia welcome today’s announcement by the ACCC that Telstra and the ACCC will be asking the Federal Court to impose a penalty of $50 million on the telco. The penalty relates to unconscionable conduct in its’ dealings with 108 Indigenous customers.

Telstra has admitted it breached consumer law and acted unconscionably between January 2016 to August 2018. It has also agreed to pay the multi-million dollar penalty. It is a matter for the Court to decide whether this penalty will be appropriate.

The ACCC began investigating allegations of unconscionable conduct by Telstra after financial counsellors approached the regulator with 96 initial cases from across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

Financial counsellors first noticed the concerning behaviour over three years ago.

Telstra staff in five stores convinced Indigenous consumers to sign up to multiple post-paid mobile contracts which they did not understand and could not afford.

Many accumulated massive debts – one as much as $19,000.

Some of these debts were then sold to debt collectors, which only increased pressure on the consumers to repay them.

Many of the people involved spoke English as a second or third language and some even lived in areas without mobile phone coverage.

This case shows the vital role that financial counsellors play on the ground to protect consumers and help them deal with debt.

Quotes

Carolyn Cartwright, Managing Director of Money Mob Talkabout, Alice Springs.

“We welcome this development and are also pleased to see that Telstra, in addition to the remediation actions they have embarked upon to date, have formally acknowledged the damage this corporate behaviour has caused.”

Alan Gray, Financial Counsellor, Earth Garden Foundation, Broome.

“Financial counsellors have worked for three years together to see this ACCC action succeed. Today’s announcement is an important milestone but it’s not the end of our campaign.”

Peter Gartlan, Financial Counselling Australia.

“This conduct should never have happened in the first place. The ACCC has now sent a clear message to corporate Australia and other telcos, that this sort of behaviour is not on. It causes harm to individuals and families.”

“This case shows the vital role financial counsellors play in ensuring vulnerable consumers are protected from unconscionable conduct.”

“Financial Counselling Australia thanks all the financial counsellors involved in persevering with this case over a three-year period. Their work and commitment was outstanding and without them, this outcome would not have occurred.”

Toni Cork, General Manager, HK Training & Consultancy, Darwin.

“Time and time again, financial counsellors in outback towns and cities have seen clients from remote communities struggling under the weight of massive Telstra debts – sometimes up to $18,000.”

“We have made huge progress with getting these debts waived, but we fear there are more remote people who still have debts with Telcos.”

ENDS

For comment please contact:

Carolyn Cartwright:  Money Mob, Alice Springs 0411 419 425

Toni Cork: HKTC Financial Counselling, Darwin 0402 885 126

Alan Gray: Earth Garden Financial Counselling, Broome 0428 515254

Peter Gartlan: Financial Counselling Australia, Melbourne 0457 700 028

Financial counsellors welcome Government’s commitment to a more secure and coordinated future for the sector

Financial Counselling Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s response to last year’s review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia.

The review, called the Countervailing Power: Review of the coordination and funding for financial counselling services across Australia, made a series of recommendations to ensure the long-term viability of the sector.

Importantly, the Government has supported the review’s recommendation to increase funding through contributions from industry. We note the Government’s preference for a voluntary industry funding model, covering a wide range of industries, to start from 2021- 22. We also note that if agreement is not reached a compulsory mechanism would be considered.

The financial counselling sector looks forward to working collaboratively with the industries that interact regularly with financial counsellors – financial services providers, energy retailers and telcos – to progress an industry funding model.

We also note the Government’s in principle support for an independent body to oversee the national financial counselling effort, including delivery of funding. We believe an independent body, sitting outside government and with a governance structure modelled along the lines of the successful external dispute resolution schemes (an independent chair, with equal numbers of community and industry representatives) would be an appropriate model. A body like this would be well placed to implement an overall national strategy for financial counselling, responding quickly to changing circumstances.

The Government’s response shows it is committed to ensuring there is sustained, predictable and stable funding for the financial counselling sector.

Current funding arrangements are short-term, ad hoc and uncertain. A new model will mean more Australians in financial hardship will get the assistance they need, especially at a time when many in our community are doing it tough.

ENDS

Link to the Government response is here.

Link to the review is here.

122 organisations join together to oppose Government’s plan to axe safe lending laws

Axing safe lending laws will be bad for people, bad for the economy and directly contradict the first recommendation of the banking royal commission, say leading voices across Australia

Speaking with one voice, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy organisations, charities, community, legal and family violence organisations, unions and financial counsellors have condemned the government’s plans to axe safe lending laws.

In a national open letter launched today, 122 organisations and 97 prominent Australians are urging Senators to block proposed weakening of safe lending laws which protect consumers from aggressive lending by financial institutions. Supporters of the open letter include ACTU, ACOSS, Anglicare, and a range of religious, community, legal and family violence organisations from across Australia.

The Open Letter is also supported by new national polling that shows ​that Australians expect lenders to check if credit is unaffordable. 79% of people think that banks should be required to always check a customer’s ability to repay before offering a mortgage (only 4% disagree).[1]

See the open letter: c​hoice.com.au/safelending
Read more about the campaign at ​debtdisaster.com.au

Graphics, photo and video content available via Dropbox: ​https://shwca.se/safelending

Quotes attributable to Alan Kirkland, CEO of CHOICE

“Without safe lending protections many Australians will be exposed to the terrible lending practices we saw in the lead-up to the global financial crisis. We’re asking every Senator to help protect us from this happening again.”

“We have seen what happens when banks are unregulated, with no penalties for bad behaviour. That’s why we had to have a royal commission. Nobody wants to go back to those days.

“Vital organisations that assist millions of Australians have joined together to oppose these changes to lending laws. From community groups to domestic violence services and frontline legal assistance organisations, we know that removing these laws will hurt people.

Quotes attributable to Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia

“Many people are struggling financially at the moment and the last thing they need is to be loaded up with more debt. Financial counsellors see at first hand the harm caused to people and families when they struggle to make repayments.”

“We implore the Senate to listen to the warnings of financial counsellors, because our only interest is that of our client’s. We cannot in good conscience sit by and let these laws go through without doing what we can to stop them. That’s also why financial counsellors from around Australia are writing to their local politicians asking to meet. Politicians who would like to take us up on that offer – please get in touch so we can explain what we see in our day to day casework.”

“Even with the current responsible lending laws financial counsellors still see too many vulnerable people with too much debt. We despair at the thought that this will get worse.”

Quotes attributable to Karen Cox, CEO of Financial Rights Legal Centre

“Responsible lending laws were designed to stop the reckless lending we witnessed throughout the global financial crisis and the royal commission. It’s beyond belief that less than two years after the royal commission made this its first recommendation that the Government wants to go directly against it.”

“Before safe laws were introduced, lenders regularly sold unaffordable loans to people, including pensioners, people on Centrelink payments and casual workers, who they knew would never be able to repay the loans.”

Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action Law Centre

“Under the government’s plans, borrowers would have existing rights to sue their lender for unsuitable lending removed. Lenders would also have far fewer incentives to comply with good lending standards, because penalties for breaching laws are being removed and weakened.”

“Newly released November 2020 polling shows that 82% of people believe there should be fair compensation for people when they are wronged by financial institutions. The government’s plan puts this at risk.”

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, 0430 172 669, [email protected]

Notes:

[1] Polling was completed as part of the Dynata’s weekly “Omnipulse” omnibus.The fieldwork was conducted on 11-16 November, 2020. 1,014 people completed the survey and data was weighed to the latest ABS census data so results are nationally representative.

Australia’s financial counsellors warn the Federal Government about a looming debt disaster if safe lending laws are ditched

Financial counsellors from across the country are warning of a looming debt disaster if the Federal Government proceeds with plans to axe safe lending laws.

Financial Counselling Australia and the state and territory financial counselling associations have made a joint submission to The Treasury about proposed changes to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.

The responsible lending obligations protect people from exploitative lending by banks and other lenders and were introduced after the Global Financial Crisis. The Federal Government will soon introduce a bill into Parliament which will see them wound back from March next year.

The responsible lending obligations require lenders and brokers to:

  1. make reasonable inquiries about the consumer’s financial situation, and their requirements and objectives;
  2. take reasonable steps to verify the consumer’s financial situation; and
  3. make an assessment about whether the credit contract is ‘not unsuitable’ for the consumer.

The joint submission points out the fundamental flaws with the proposed changes, including:

  • The removal of individual rights. It will be much harder for people given excessive credit to obtain redress through the independent dispute body, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. There will be no rights for individuals to take breaches of responsible lending laws to court
  • People who are vulnerable, such as those who are affected by family violence, who have low financial literacy or have mental health issues, will be at risk of significant harm because lenders may take advantage of that vulnerability
  • The whole proposal unwinds Australia’s successful and much emulated twin peaks model of regulation, with APRA focusing on prudential regulation and ASIC focusing on conduct. Instead of responsible lending obligations, we will be left with APRA lending standards which are designed primarily around system stability, not whether individuals are harmed.

Financial counsellors work in community-based organisations and provide free, independent and non-judgmental assistance to people in financial stress. They are different to financial planners or advisors.

They work with people who are struggling with debt on a daily basis and witness the devastating impact of irresponsible lending on individuals and families.

If these laws are removed, many people will forgo other essentials like groceries and medicine. Unaffordable debt is often a pathway to poverty.

Australia already has a massive debt problem. We have the second highest debt to income ratio in the world and financial counsellors fear there is a looming debt disaster if these laws are axed.

Finally, let’s not forget the Banking Royal Commission. The very first recommendation of the Commission (Recommendation 1.1) accepted by the Government was:

The NCCP Act should not be amended to alter the obligation to assess unsuitability.

That is to say, our responsible lending laws should remain unchanged.

Quotes from National and State bodies follow:

CEO of Financial Counselling Australia, Fiona Guthrie.

“Financial counsellors are dismayed that the Government is introducing this legislation. We see at first hand the harm caused when people are given credit they struggle to repay. This is why financial counsellors have been writing to their local politicians and seeking meetings with them, so we can provide them with real examples.”

“If these changes go ahead it will be a recipe for economic disaster. Loading people up with more debt is not the way to foster the economic recovery.”

Jon O’Mally, Executive Officer of Financial Counsellors’ Association of Queensland.

“The impact of this will be widespread and long term. Unaffordable debt can have serious implications on a person’s mental health and family relationships and make it difficult to pay for essentials like food, education and healthcare.”

“This decision by the Government will not only take away financial consumer protection, it takes away our social and well-being protections as well.”

Phone: 0429 061 269

Wendy Shirley, Executive Officer of South Australian Financial Counsellors’ Association

“We’re urging all parliamentarians to think about what this will mean for people when they are struggling to pay back debts they can’t afford. Think about their health, think about their mental health, think about their futures.”

Phone: 0427 823 656

Sandy Ross, Executive Officer of Financial Counselling Victoria

“This will cause more people to be lumbered with unaffordable debts to meet the drive for profit by banks and other lenders. People stuck with an inappropriate loan will lose the right to take their case to court and have fewer remedies in free dispute resolution through the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.”

Phone: 0417 557 420

Melanie Every, Executive Officer of the Financial Counsellors’ Association of Western Australia.

“Removing these laws will increase the risk that red flags for domestic violence or economic abuse will be missed. There will be fewer requirements for lenders and brokers to inquire into and verify a person’s financial situation, objectives and requirements.”

Phone: 0406 740 197

Jo Parker, Executive Officer of the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW.

“Financial counsellors don’t understand why the Federal Government wants to change these laws. It will lead to more debt and more hardship. Financial counsellors see first-hand that when people struggle to repay unaffordable debt, they forgo essential expenses like food, medicine, education or heating/cooling.”

Phone: 0466 351 400

Fiona Moore, Chair of Financial Counselling Tasmania.

“This proposal goes against the very first recommendation of the Banking Royal Commission, which is that the obligation to assess unsuitability should remain.”

“People need more income, not more debt. When people struggle to repay unaffordable debt, they forgo essential expenses like food, medicine and education. More people will end up living in poverty.”

Lyndall Millburn, President of Financial Counsellors ACT

“It is very disappointing that the Government plans to repeal the responsible lending laws. If the protections are removed, they will be making already vulnerable members of our society even more vulnerable.”

“More financial hardship reverberates through people’s whole lives and onto the whole of society. The protections put in place by the responsible lending laws are widely supported, most notably by the Banking Royal Commission. There does not seem to be any advantage to anyone if the laws are repealed. It does not make sense to expect a debt led recovery from this recession.”

Phone: 02 6257 1788

For interviews please contact Maura Angle on 0418 334 121 or email [email protected]

One step forward, two steps back: Banking Royal Commission reforms welcomed but deep concerns remain

Consumer groups* have strongly welcomed the introduction of a Bill today in Parliament to prevent hard-sell tactics for insurance and other financial products.

The Bill introduces some of the 76 long-awaited reforms to strengthen Australian’s consumers rights recommended by the Banking Royal Commission.

“These reforms target hard-sell tactics for insurance after heart-wrenching stories were uncovered by the Banking Royal Commission,” said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action.

“Cold-calling people to sell low-value insurance or bundling junk products in a hard sell should now be stamped out. We congratulate the Federal Government for progressing stronger consumer protections.

“At the same time, we have concerns about a potential exemption for travel insurance from some of the insurance reforms. This would leave people open to unscrupulous sales tactics and being sold unsuitable travel insurance, cementing the problems we saw in travel insurance during the COVID crisis.

“Commissioner Hayne recommended ‘industry-wide’ reform as well as abolishing exemptions and loopholes. After a massive spike in travel insurance complaints during the COVID-19 crisis, any exemptions should be time limited and for good-value products only,” said Mr Brody.

“This is a good start to implementing the Hayne Reforms. We now need to see the enactment of the entire reform package as promised by the Morrison Government in response to the Banking Royal Commission’s final report,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we have seen the Government backflipping on some of their Banking Royal Commission commitments already. In particular, the proposed scrapping of responsible lending protections would directly contravene the very first recommendation by Commissioner Hayne. Reducing consumer protection in lending makes no sense ethically, morally, or economically. It will risk explosive debt and more suffering among our most vulnerable,” said Mr Brody.

”Today is another positive step towards making sure banks and financial institutions are held to account. We welcome the Government’s introduction of key Banking Royal Commission recommendations into Parliament,” said Alan Kirkland, CEO of CHOICE.

“This is just the next step in a long process. There are still some critical reforms to come in further legislation next year.

“In this context, it is astonishing that the Government is proposing to axe safe lending laws. The work of implementing the Banking Royal Commission recommendations is far from done, yet the Government is proposing to repudiate the Banking Royal Commission’s first recommendation – that safe lending laws should not be amended.”

ENDS

*Consumer Action, CHOICE, Financial Rights Legal Centre, Financial Counselling Australia

Financial counsellors call for JobSeeker increase this Anti-Poverty Week

Financial Counselling Australia has joined Anti-Poverty Week, Sunday 11 – Saturday 17 October 2020, to highlight the devastating impacts of poverty in Australia and the importance of implementing lasting solutions.

 Financial counsellors believe the most effective way to alleviate poverty is for the JobSeeker payment to be increased.

“JobSeeker needs to be set at a level that provides enough for people to live on with dignity,” said Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia.

“Financial counsellors are supporting a new group of people, who have never experienced unemployment. They are uncertain about how to make ends meet and what will happen in coming months.”

Poverty in Australia is a significant issue. More than 3.24 million people, or 13.6 percent of the population, currently live below the poverty line.[1]

Demand for food relief from charities has increased by 47 percent during COVID-19. Australians who faced food insecurity before the pandemic are going hungry more often, with 43 percent going a whole day each week without eating.[2]

Renters are also adversely affected, with one third of tenants in Australia saying they are struggling to make ends meet or had recently skipped meals.[3]

There is a clear solution to prevent poverty in Australia: an adequate and permanent increase in JobSeeker .

Financial counsellors are skilled professionals who provide free, independent and confidential advice for people experiencing financial hardship. They are not planners or advisors. They do not provide investment advice or earn commissions.

Media contact: Maura Angle, Director of Community Engagement, 0418 334 121, [email protected].

[1] Davidson, P., Saunders, P., Bradbury, B. and Wong, M. (2020), Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview. ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 3, Sydney: ACOSS.

[2] FoodBank Hunger Report 2020: Food insecurity in the time of COVID-19.

[3] Baker, E., Bentley, R., Beer, A. and Daniel, L. (2020) Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts, AHURI Final Report No. 340, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/340, doi: 10.18408/ahuri3125401.

Financial counsellors welcome funding announcements

Financial Counselling Australia has welcomed two key announcements made last night as part of the Federal Budget.

The first measure will secure the ongoing pay of financial counsellors employed by a number of financial counselling agencies and other community organisations.

The Government will provide $132.6 million over three years to services impacted by the end of the Social and Community Services Special Account (SACS). This account was set up to fund the increased wage costs following the 2011 Equal Renumeration Order from Fair Work Australia decision.

The money will now be part of their base funding.

The decision means these organisations are no longer facing an effective funding cut.

Agencies can expect to hear from the Department soon about contract variations to incorporate the SACS supplementation into existing contracts.

The other great news is the provision of $44.4 million over three years from 2021-22 (and $12.9 million per year ongoing) to continue Microfinance, Money Support Hubs and Problem Gambling Financial Counselling measures.

These programs are now in the same category as general financial counselling and emergency relief funding and are classified as ongoing.

The fact these programs are now ongoing shows the Government recognises how important they are to the social, financial and mental well-being of people. At a time when so many people will be doing it tough, and unemployment is forecast to remain high for so long, financial counselling will be more important than ever.

Financial counsellors provide free, independent and non-judgemental assistance to people facing financial hardship. They work in not-for-profit organisations and are different to financial planners or advisors.

Consumer groups slam move to remove responsible lending laws

 

MEDIA STATEMENT
FRIDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2020

Consumer groups slam move to remove responsible lending laws

Removing credit protections will cause harm to people and the economy 

CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Counselling Australia and Financial Rights Legal Centre have responded to the Government’s announcement that it will remove credit protections for borrowers saying right now what people need is more income, not more debt.

Government’s proposed reforms will remove bank responsibility to customers, opening up new opportunities for banks to aggressively sell debt.

Quotes attributable to Karen Cox, CEO of Financial Rights Legal Centre and opening witness to the Banking Royal Commission

“The problem people are having right now is too much debt and not enough income. The Government’s solution is to take on more debt with fewer protections. Unsustainable debt hurts real people and is a short-sighted fix for a flailing economy.

“Watering down credit protections will leave individuals and families at severe risk of being pushed into credit arrangements that will hurt in the long term.

“Our service helped thousands of Australians drowning in debt and we continue to see legacy debt that predates the Hayne Royal Commission. How can we have so quickly forgotten the hard lessons from the GFC and the Hayne Royal commission?”

Quotes attributable to Fiona Guthrie, CEO of Financial Counselling Australia

“As we learnt to our cost during the GFC, weaker lending standards mean people will be loaded up with as much debt as possible. There is significant profit to be made in pushing borrowers to the edge.

“Removing responsible lending obligations will free banks up to aggressively push credit onto their customers.”

Alan Kirkland, CEO of CHOICE

“We got rid of the idea of ‘buyer beware’ in consumer law decades ago. To make it the principle that guides lending in the middle of a recession has disaster written all over it.

“Piling more debt onto people who can’t afford it has never solved an economic crisis.

“Products like credit cards are complex. That’s why banks make so much money out of them. Banks are in a much better position to assess a person’s ability to repay, so they need to shoulder some of the responsibility.”

Quotes attributable to Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action

“Responsible lending laws ensure safe access to credit.”

“The Commonwealth Bank recently said that the flow of credit is above pre-COVID levels and that lending is growing at a strong pace. And none of the big banks opposed the responsible lending laws at the recent House of Economics committee hearings.”

“Leaving people with more debt they can afford is no way out of an economic crisis. Pushing too much credit that people can’t afford to repay creates hardship, stress, anxiety for individuals and families.”

Media contacts

CHOICE – 0430 172 669
Consumer Action – 0413 299 567
Financial Rights – 0414 729 006
Financial Counselling Australia – 0402 426 835

Notes

There is no issue with access to credit – lending is still growing significantly. The ABS July 2020 data on loan commitments shows that the number of new housing loans issued was 11.8% higher than July 2019. See – ABS, Lending indicators, July 2020

Under the National Credit Act, responsible lending laws do not apply to small business lending.

The Banking Royal Commission did not recommend any changes to responsible lending laws. Commissioner Hayne concluded:
“I am not persuaded that the NCCP Act’s framework for responsible lending to consumers needs change. The responsible lending issues identified during the Commission’s hearings will be resolved by banks applying the law as it stands.” (p.117 Final Report)

Money on your mind – campaign to improve mental and financial health

Media Release
1 September, 2020

Beyond Blue and Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) are encouraging people to access free support services to cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisations have launched the Money on Your Mind campaign to support people experiencing financial stress and mental health issues.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 41 per cent of Australian businesses reported a decrease in revenue in August, while people who contact the National Debt Helpline and Beyond Blue continue citing the pandemic’s effect on employment and income as a cause of stress.

Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said unemployment, insecure work and financial stress and uncertainty are often linked to mental health issues.

“Our jobs do more than put food on the table, they give us a sense of purpose and identity. So when we lose that, it’s natural to feel worried and overwhelmed,” Ms Harman said.

“We know that job loss and financial stress can increase the risk of people developing mental health conditions, so it is vitally important to reach out early for support whether that’s from a mental health professional or financial counsellor, or both.

“It’s never too early or late to take control of your money and look after your mental health.”

FCA CEO Fiona Guthrie said, “seeking assistance is an important first step in getting your finances and mental well-being back on track.”

“Financial counsellors are trained to help people who are feeling anxious about their finances and future. They can guide you through your options and rights,” Ms Guthrie said.

Financial counsellors give free advice to people who are struggling with their finances and debt. They are different to financial planners and advisors. They don’t lend money or advise people about how to invest.

A recent survey of financial counsellors conducted by Financial Counselling Australia showed:

  • Financial counselling clients commonly report mental health issues. 83 per cent of financial counsellors said that “about half”, “most” or “all” of their clients did so.
  • Financial counsellors said more clients were reporting mental health issues since the pandemic began. 67 per cent said that the numbers of clients reporting mental health issues had either “increased a little bit” or “increased a lot”.
  • Financial counsellors reported people felt less stressed and more hopeful after receiving financial counselling. 97 per cent of financial counsellors either “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with this statement.
  • Financial counsellors said that financial hardship causes mental health to deteriorate. 75 per cent “strongly agreed” and 23 per cent “agreed”.

For more information about Money on Your Mind and how to seek support, go to Beyond Blue’s financial wellbeing page.

For free financial counselling call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

The free Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is available 24/7 at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au or by calling 1800 512 348.

A short summary of the FCA report can be found on our website.

For an interview with the CEO of Financial Counselling Australia, Fiona Guthrie, contact Maura Angle on 0418 334 121 or email [email protected]

For an interview with a Beyond Blue spokesperson contact Sandro Olivo on 9810 6139 or [email protected]

FCA apologises for mistake in Rank the Banks (and other creditors) report

Media Release 

29th July 2020

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) has today apologised for some inaccurate information in its’ latest Rank the Banks (and other creditors) report. In some of the tables we incorrectly included the total number of financial counsellors who responded to the question, but these included people who ticked “not applicable”.

Accordingly, some firms were included in the tables when they should not have been, because the samples sizes relevant to them were too small to warrant inclusion.

Where the sample size for a company was less than 20, we will not be reporting it.

This error was not picked up and it should have been. All tables will be reviewed and updated accordingly.

What does this mean for the headline rankings?

All of the ratings made in the analysis were correct, but we should have not reported companies where the sample size was too small (and noted in the report that they were not reported for that reason). Accordingly, the following companies will be excluded from the tables and figures:

  • Bank of Sydney
  • My State
  • Rabobank
  • Rural Bank
  • CFMG
  • Executive Collections
  • Mercantile CPA
  • ProCollect
  • All-set Rentals
  • deferit

The tables will be updated to include the actual numbers of financial counsellors that provided rankings.

We understand how important it is to get something like this right and apologise for publishing our report with some mistakes.

We have therefore removed the report from our website along with any social media posts. We are in the process of amending the incorrect data and will re-issue the report, once corrected.

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