Complaint options

Dissatisfied with your adviser? You have a number of options. Several are legal remedies, others a requirement of advisers who are members of the Institute.

We recommend you go through the following process:

  • Contact your adviser to express your dissatisfaction. This will give them - and you - an opportunity to consider the matter, and to respond. If your adviser is an Authorised Financial Adviser, they will be required to have an internal complaints process.
  • If you are still unhappy with the outcome, contact the principal of the organisation or firm through which you received advice. If your adviser is an AFA then your firm should have 'higher level' complaints processes in place.
  • Complain to your adviser's Disputes Resolution Scheme. Under law, all advisers must belong to one. You can find out which scheme your adviser belongs to by consulting the online database of advisers at Two of the schemes can hear disputes up to $100,000, while the third can hear disputes up to $200,000.
  • As the name implies a Disputes Resolution Scheme (DRS) aims to find a way to resolve the issue without expensive or time-consuming litigation. There are three stages. In the first stage, the DRS mediator will discuss the complaint; in the second stage, seek to mediate an acceptable outcome. Only if mediation is not possible will the DRS adjudicate and issue a decision. This decision is binding on the adviser - but not on you, unless you agreed at the start to be bound.

If you are still unhappy, you can:

  • Complain to the Financial Markets Authority ( This is the government agency which regulates all financial advisers and can take action if warranted. This may because the adviser has breached the terms of their authorisation, disclosure obligations, other requirements, or consumer law such as the fair Trading act or Consumer Guarantees Act.
  • Take a civil action
  • Complain to the Institute of Financial Advisers, if your adviser is a Member of the Institute and your complaint relates to a breach of the Institute's bylaws, code of ethics or practice standards.

What we can do - and what we can't

We can:

  • Censure the member
  • Require them to change their business practices and procedures
  • Require regular reports on their practice
  • Impose a fine of up to $10 ,000;
  • Suspend or terminate membership
  • Notify any relevant Government or statutory authority
  • Require their name to be published, including on the Institute's website

We can't:

We can't order restitution for any money lost. In such cases you would need to take civil action against the adviser.