Frequently Asked Questions

1. Making a complaint

Quite likely.

You can make a complaint to FDRS about a financial service provider who has been de registered by the Financial Service Providers Register, or has been terminated by FDRS (see Search for Scheme Members)  so long as the issue that gave rise to the complaint occurred after 1 October 2010 and whilst the financial service provider (or scheme member) was a member of FDRS. 

Only if you are not seeking redress against the financial adviser or QFE. If you are seeking redress or compensation by way of dispute resolution you need to follow the directions at How to Make a Complaint.

The FMA is the regulator for financial advisers and QFEs (Qualifying Financial Entities). It acts as the disciplinarian and investigates complaints about financial advisers. If you are not wanting compensation but have a complaint about your  financial service provider, you can complain to FMA by calling 0800 434 566 (+64 3 962 2698 for overseas callers), or going to

You can complain if a person or company providing you with financial advice breaches the Financial Advisers Act 2008 by, for example:

  • failing to exercise care, diligence and skill when providing financial services
  • claiming to be a financial adviser or providing financial services when they are not allowed to do so
  • failing to comply with disclosure or conduct obligations
  • behaving misleadingly or deceptively.

You can also complain if an Authorised Financial Adviser fails to follow the Code of Professional Conduct for Authorised Financial Advisers. For example if they:

  • imply they are independent when they are not
  • fail to put client's interests first
  • fail to act with integrity.

Anyone can complain on a consumer’s behalf - for example, a member of the family, a friend or a person from a Community Law Centre. FDRS requires written authority from the consumer before discussing any personal details with a representative, or requesting any information that may be needed from the financial service provider.

The cost of taking action are not covered by FDRS. This includes legal fees and any other costs associated with using FDRS to resolve a dispute.

FDRS can consider compensation for any losses that may have been suffered, but cannot award punitive costs, penalties or interest, in the final determination about a dispute. The maximum amount of money that can be paid out is $200,000 in total.

No. The FDRS scheme is a free and informal alternative to going to court, so a dispute within the FDRS process does not need to involve a lawyer.

A consumer may use and have the lawyer or any other person represent them. However if a consumer does want to bring an adviser or lawyer to an FDRS meeting, all parties to the dispute must agree before this can happen.

The dispute process is free for complainants.

FDRS is committed to resolving complaints promptly and responding to customers as soon as possible. FDRS encourages early resolution in the interests of all parties that might be involved. We suggest complainants contact FDRS immediately they have a concern. That way we can ensure both parties have an opportunity to address the issue.

The Scheme Member must be given the opportunity to consider the complaint first (ie within six years from the date of the event about which the complaint refers)We will contact the complainant by the end of two months to check that they have had opportunity to make their complaint to the scheme member.

Scheme members have up to a maximum of two months in which to investigate and provide a Decision or Deadlock notice. If complainants are unhappy with that decision the complaint can then be referred to FDRS within the following timeframes:

  • within three months after receiving a decision OR deadlock notice
  • within two years after first making that complaint to the member in any other case.

Most disputes will be resolved within two months. A small number may take longer, depending on how complex the complaint is and the type of information that may be required. Scheme Members must respond within specific timeframes, according to the FDRS process.

The maximum time it can take for a dispute to be resolved is about seven months.

2. Complaint types

FDRS will not consider a complaint if:

  • The complaint has been made to a court or the Dispute Tribunal, or is currently being considered as part of a formal court process.
  • The complaint involves the same, or substantially the same, issues as a complaint that has been previously made to FDRS (unless there is new information).
  • A reasonable settlement offer has already been offered to the consumer by the scheme member.
  • The complaint is considered by FDRS to be frivolous or vexatious.
  • The event being complained about occurred prior to a scheme member’s date of joining the FDRS.
  • Complaints about general commercial decisions of a scheme member, such as an interest rate or a credit decision.

Generally we cannot consider disputes about the quantum of fees and interest rates as these are  matters of commercial policy. However we may make a ruling where we consider fees and interest are unreasonable, oppresive or irresponsible in the context of the issue, or if they have been incorectly disclosed.

The Credit Contracts and Consumer Credit Amendment Act  2014 which includes the Responsible Lending Code stands precedent over commercial policy

FDRS may consider the complaint if it believes a scheme member has applied an incorrect fee or interest rate in error or in breach of a contract .

Generally no. FDRS rules do not apply to a scheme member’s judgement in relation to lending or security, unless it deems them unreasonable or irresponsible. FDRS cannot make a scheme member provide services or advice. However, if you think you have been given the wrong advice about a financial product or service, FDRS may be able to help you.


Any complaint made to FDRS must be about an issue or action that took place after a financial service provider joined FDRS, or another scheme (sometimes a provider will move schemes).

A consumer must bring a complaint to FDRS within three months of getting either a decision notice or deadlock notice from their financial servce provider (scheme member)

The complaint must be made to FDRS within two years from when the complaint was first raised with the scheme member

A complaint is not covered by FDRS if it involves events that occurred more than 6 years before the complainant made the complaint to the member

Yes. This form is available to make a complaint about FDRS. FDRS is governed by an Advisory Body, and is bound by law to pass on all complaints about its service and conduct to the Advisory Body. The Advisory Body reviews all complaints, and will make contact with the consumer directly after receiving the complaint.

FDRS can consider disputes about a person’s credit rating. It can investigate whether the information is correct, and if the financial services provider who provided the information complied with the relevant laws.

3. The FDRS process

No. An outcome from a dispute may include some monetary compensation, but can also be other things, such as an apology or that a member changes a business practice

FDRS cannot give legal advice because it must remain independent of all parties.

Yes. The information provided to FDRS will only be used in your dispute. It may be shared with the other parties in the dispute, but not with anyone else.

However, FDRS is able to make its final recommendation public, and also has the authority to direct a scheme member to make a public apology as a remedy to a complaint that is upheld.

A complaint does not need to be made to FDRS before being taken to the courts. However a dispute that has been taken to court or is in the process of being considered by the courts cannot then be brought to FDRS.

If the consumer disagrees with the final outcome from the FDRS process the dispute can still be taken to the courts.

No, a consumer does not have to accept any decision FDRS makes. The complaint can be taken to court, the Disputes Tribunal, or any other complaint resolution body. FDRS cannot however look into a complaint that is currently being considered by a court.

Not as such.  Most disputes can be dealt with by way of facilitation or mediation by email and/or discussions via telephone or video conference.

Sometimes it may be appropriate to conduct  medaitions or conciliations in person. The Mediator will arrange this.

Adjudications are conducted "on the papers" -there is no one on one meeting with the Adjudicator. The Adjudicator issues a provisional decision, with an appropriate timeframe for response from parties before issuing a final, and binding (on the schem member)  decision. 

4. FAQs for scheme members

Yes. The membership fee is an annual charge to provide for the cost of maintaining a best practice on demand dispute resoluion scheme for members to deal with issues they are unable to resolve themselves. The scheme provides members with guidelines to manage an effective cpomplaints process, reports, nwesletters, updates, and training to manage complaints and dipsutes if required.  Fees are payable in advance with options for periodic payments. Fees are a bit like an insurance premium. The scheme is here for in case of need.

No, FDRS only charges annual membership fees and (where necessary) cost-per-complaint fees. See the Membership types and fees page.

Yes. FDRS requires three months written notice of a scheme member's intention to leave the scheme.

Each financial service provider will have its own definition of deadlock. The simplest definition is that a scheme member has received a complaint, has made all reasonable attempts to resolve the situation, but the consumer is not satisfied with the outcome.

Please also note FDRS will consider a complaint to be at deadlock if the consumer has not had any contact from their financial service provider in response to their complaint, or if a complaint is not resolved within two months of it first being made.

The terms and conditions of many financial service agreements allow financial service providers to recover legal costs and other losses from their customers.

Financial service providers may enforce the terms of agreements with their customers. This would also cover costs, as long as those costs are not associated with making a complaint to the reserve scheme.

No. Under the FDRS Scheme Rules and legislation, Scheme Members cannot claim back legal fees or any other losses incurred as a result of their customers making complaints through FDRS, nor can they pass any of these costs on to the customer. One of the core features of FDRS is that their services are provided free of charge to consumers.

The provisions in the legislation that require the dispute resolution process to be free of charge to consumers are Rules 4, 8, 14 and 44 of the Financial Service Providers (Dispute Resolution) Rules 2010.  Scheme Member fees and complaint charges are set out in the Financial Service Providers (Dispute Resolution—Fees) Rules 2010. 


There are two separate processes to register as a financial service provider (FSP).

  1. Become a member of a dispute resolution scheme (eg FDRS). There is an annual membership fee, invoiced six monthly, payable to the Ministry of Economic Development.
  2. Register at the Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR). Follow the online process and when you are asked which dispute resolution scheme you belong to, choose Financial Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS). You pay a separate fee to Companies Office - a one-off joining fee and then a lesser annual fee.