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.