24th December 2015 – Usually FCA keeps our correspondence private, but we think it is in the public interest to release this recent important exchange with Santa.
1st December 2015
We would like more funding for financial counselling.
PS We’ve been really, really good this year.
8th December 2015
We refer to our letter of 1 Dec 2015, to which we have not had a reply. We are beginning to wonder if you really exist.
15th December 2015
Santa? We’re still waiting …
17th December 2015
We’ve tried to contact you a number of times with our Christmas list for 2015. Funnily enough, it was the same list as last year and we didn’t get a reply then either. Could we get some feedback perhaps?? Are we asking too much? We thought that money would be pretty easy to organise, but perhaps you don’t have paywave at the North Pole?
Please let us know asap, because if money is too hard, a whole new computer system for all 800 financial counsellors would be pretty cool. This could be cloud based, which would overcome the getting stuck in the chimney problem. (Important note: last year there were about 950 financial counsellors, but we think around 150 may have lost their jobs this year. We have a black joke in our sector: what is the difference between a financial counsellor and a client: one of them has a job.)
Finally, just a comment about the Elf Hotline. It is always busy! Although we sympathise with this … the helpline we run for people in financial difficulty is pretty busy too … at least you can leave a message on 1800 007 007 and we’ll get back to you. The Elf Hotline doesn’t even have any Christmas music. And you can’t leave a message. And there isn’t even a website. If you don’t have a website, you really mustn’t exist.
Yours in hope
24th December 2015
Well, we assume that no response means “no”.
But like any good financial counsellor, we’re investigating ways to dispute your decision. We can’t find details for your External Dispute Resolution Scheme. In Australia, if you have a dispute about money, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service. Surely there is a FOS for you – the Father (Christmas) Ombudsman Service?
Yours in despair
24th December 2015
Thank you for your correspondence. We are now closed for Christmas. Our website is under construction.
Santa and Mrs Claus
PS. Yes, FCA, there is a Santa Claus.
AND THE SERIOUS STUFF
FCA and financial counsellors everywhere wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We also hope that any post-Christmas debt hangovers are manageable. But if not, we’re here to help in January ….
And finally, here is our list of the folk we think that Santa should remember on Christmas morning because they were very good in 2015 …
1. The banking industry – because they are doing some really practical things to help people in financial difficulty. They updated their hardship guideline to include options such as debt waivers and debt write downs. They are about to update it again to address family violence. And the major players are no longer banking payday lenders.
Gift buying suggestion – they’d really like changes to capital adequacy requirements, but would probably settle for not having to appear in as many Senate inquires as in 2015.
2. ASIC – because in the consumer protection space, they are a wonderfully practical and effective regulator. They released two seminal reports that contributed hugely to law reform: one into payday lending that documented the widespread non-compliance of this industry with the credit legislation and the other into consumer leases. Consumer lease providers are charging up to 884% in interest. Yep. 884%.
Gift buying suggestion – apparently they’d like more money too! But if they can’t have that, they seem to want a ‘user pays’ system.
3. Nick Xenophon – because he’s indefatigable in his quest to rein in the gambling industry. Nick released FCA’s report into the online sports betting industry “Duds, Mugs and the A-List” and then followed up by introducing legislation that picks up the recommendations in that report. We need to stop the use of credit for gambling, we need an effective self exclusion register and a proper consumer protection framework. See here for FCA’s press release and submission into the current review of the Interactive Gambling Act.
4. Christian Porter, Minister for Social Services – because he is the first Minister for Social Services in recent years that has met with FCA. His office is also the best organised we’ve dealt with.
Gift buying suggestion – gratitude (because that would be a huge surprise! Politicians don’t get a lot of that – gratitude that is. They get quite a lot of surprises. In fact, he might like fewer surprises.)
5. Our colleagues in the community/consumer sector – ACOSS, CHOICE, Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial Rights Legal Centre, Good Shepherd Microfinance, State and Territory financial counselling associations – because you’re awesome to work with and collectively we achieved a huge amount.
Gift buying suggestion – self congratulations (because Christmas is the only time of the year it is OK to do that).
Merry Christmas again and we hope Santa remembers each and every one of you.
MEDIA CONTACT: Fiona Guthrie – 0402 426 835