The Australian Financial Complaints Authority will soon welcome its newest ombudsman, an appointment that will be dedicated to resolving disputes for small businesses including financial services firms.
Joining AFCA from February 12 is Geoff Browne. He will become AFCA's first lead ombudsman - small business.
Browne was the Victorian Small Business Commissioner from 2011 to 2016, where he decreased the number of disputes between landlords and commercial tenants and expanded engagement with small and medium businesses.
Prior to this he was deputy director at Consumer Affairs Victoria, and has had senior management experience in both the public and private sectors, working in telecommunications, finance and e-commerce. He has also run his own small business.
AFCA chief executive and chief ombudsman David Locke said: "AFCA recognises the importance of small businesses and the final report from the Hayne Royal Commission clearly demonstrates how devastating it can be when they have financial disputes that are not fairly resolved."
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"Geoff has played an important role in improving dispute resolution outcomes for small businesses for many years, and brings firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing small businesses," Locke said.
Under AFCA rules, a small business is defined as an organisation with less than 100 employees (an increase from 20 employees under predecessor schemes).
AFCA can consider complaints from small businesses about a credit facility up to the value of $5 million. Small businesses will also benefit from an increased compensation cap from $323,500 to $1 million, and primary producers such as farmers have a compensation cap of $2 million.
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said: "I worked with Geoff Browne in his role as Victorian Small Business Commissioner. He is very knowledgeable about the banking sector and highly respected by the small business sector. Geoff is perfect for this job."