AFCA appoints six new ombudsmen

  • By Elizabeth Fry

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority has hired three new ombudsmen from the banking and insurance sectors and promoted three others internally to the role. 

ANZ head of legal, dispute resolution group Louise McAuliffe and Westpac practice leader for business lending legal James Taylor will join AFCA's banking and finance unit as ombudsmen in September. 

David Short will join AFCA's insurance team in August from his role as BizCover’s head of legal, risk, and compliance. 

"It's terrific that we have been able to secure such skilled and experienced people. Our internal promotions are also a testament to the strength of talent already here at AFCA,” said deputy chief ombudsman June Smith.  

McAuliffe has extensive experience as a banking and finance lawyer and has held senior roles in corporate and private practice, including as a partner. She has worked in the ANZ legal team for the past 14 years, progressing to her current role in 2015. The lawyer was closely involved in ANZ’s response to the Hayne royal commission.  

Taylor currently leads a team of 11 lawyers providing legal support for all project, policy, commercial and transactional aspects of Westpac’s Business Bank. Before going to Westpac, in 2017, he was head counsel at Rabobank. He has worked as a corporate and commercial lawyer in private practice in Australia and Canada and spent a year as a legal officer with the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva. 

Short has had more than 25 years’ experience across insurance, both in-house as general counsel at Chubb Insurance and in private practice as a partner at Ebsworth and Ebsworth, Hall and Wilcox, and Meridian Lawyers. With BizCover, he has been part of the executive committee of a growing company and at a time when it built out its complaint management. 

Short will join AFCA at the end of August, with Taylor and McAuliffe following in September. 

Internal promotions  

AFCA has promoted Vicki Carter and Mervyn Silverstein to the role of an ombudsman within the superannuation team, and Qasim Gilani will join the insurance team. 

Shail Singh has been reappointed as an ombudsman in investments and advice, and Christine McCarthy as an ombudsman in insurance. Daniel King has been promoted to an adjudicator role in insurance. 

The appointments follow the naming of two new lead ombudsmen for insurance and small business, with Emma Curtis due to join from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in early August and Suanne Russell from Westpac. 

AFCA received about 70,000 complaints in 2020-21 and expects to handle at least that number again in the coming year.