About Us

The IFSO Scheme resolves complaints about insurance & financial services. Find out about the IFSO Scheme structure, Commission, and international networks.

IFSO Scheme

  • Since 1995, the IFSO Scheme has provided a free and independent service for thousands of consumers. Each year we respond to over 3,000 complaint enquiries and resolve about 300 complaints.

The IFSO Scheme has been approved by the Minister of Consumer Affairs to provide an external disputes resolution service for consumers with complaints about their financial services providers. Financial service providers are required to belong to a dispute resolution scheme. The IFSO Scheme has over 4000 Participants. We can only formally investigate a complaint if it is about a Participant of our Scheme. The IFSO Scheme is funded through Participant fees and levies.

With a background in law and alternative dispute resolution, Karen was appointed as the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman in 1998. She is a qualified arbitrator and mediator, with her most recent qualification being a Masters in law from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, majoring in conflict resolution.

Karen is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA), the peak body for Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand.

Karen and Deputy Ombudsman Louise Peters lead a team of Case Managers, with expertise in dispute resolution, law and the financial services industry. Alongside the Case Managers, there are dedicated first contact staff, a membership team, and communications manager.

The IFSO is appointed by the IFSO Commission. IFSO Scheme Case Managers have legal and dispute resolution skills and experience. They can offer a range of solutions to consumers and Participants to assist in resolving complaints.

Karen Stevens

The IFSO Commission has an independent Chair, industry representatives and consumer representatives. The IFSO Commission governs the IFSO Scheme, monitors its operations and approves the budget.

Sue Suckling

Chair since February 2018

  • Chair, New Zealand Qualifications Authority
  • Chair, Jacobsen Pacific Ltd
  • Chair, Jade Software
  • Chair, Lincoln Agritech Hub
  • Director, Sky City Entertainment Group (NZX)

Dr Pushpa Woods, ONZM

Consumer Representative since September 2019

  • Director, Westpac Massey University Financial Education and Research Centre
  • Former Education Manager, Commission for Financial Capability
  • Board Member, FinCap
  • Member, Financial Disputes Resolution Service Advisory Council (FDRS)

Chris Curtin

Industry Representative since September 2019

  • CEO of AA Insurance Limited
  • Associate of the Australian Insurance Institute

Lyn McMorran

Industry Representative since February 2015

  • Executive Director, Financial Services Federation
  • Trustee, Skylight Trust
  • Member, Investment Committee, National Council of Women, NZ
  • Board Member, Australasian Society of Association Executives

Rob Hennin

Industry Representative since May 2019

  • CEO and Director, nib NZ Ltd
  • Former General Manager World Markets, Insurance
  • Former CEO, American Express Banking Corporation India
  • Former NZ Country Manager American Express & Vice President for American Express Australia.

IFSO Commission

The IFSO Commission has an independent Chair, 3 industry representatives and 3 consumer representatives. The IFSO Commission governs the IFSO Scheme, monitors its operations and approves the budget.

IFSO & Staff

The IFSO is appointed by the IFSO Commission. The IFSO team have legal and dispute resolution skills. They can offer a range of solutions to consumers and Participants to assist in resolving complaints.

IFSO Scheme Constitution & Terms of Reference

The IFSO Scheme Constitution sets out the governance structure of the IFSO Scheme, establishes the IFSO Commission, and provides for the appointment of the IFSO. The Constitution also sets out the obligations of IFSO Scheme Participants. The Terms of Reference sets out the IFSO Scheme’s jurisdiction, including the types of complaints that can be investigated, monetary limits, resolution methods and decision making criteria.

IFSO Scheme Constitution
IFSO Scheme Terms of Reference

Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA)

Karen is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA). Established in 2003, ANZOA is a professional association and the peak body for Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand. ANZOA's members are individual Ombudsmen working in not-for-profit industry-based, parliamentary and other statutory offices, which meet accepted high standards of independence, impartiality and effectiveness, and which observe the Benchmarks for Industry-Based Customer Dispute Resolution (CDR Benchmarks). See: www.anzoa.com.au

INFO Network

The IFSO Scheme is a member of the International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes (the INFO Network), a worldwide association established in late 2007. INFO Network members are Ombudsman schemes and offices operating as independent, out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms in the financial services sector. INFO Network members provide dispute resolution services for consumers (and, in some cases, small businesses) who have not been able to resolve a matter directly with their financial service provider in the areas of banking, investments, insurance, credit, financial advice and pensions. The overall aim of the INFO Network is for members to work together to develop their expertise in dispute resolution, by exchanging experiences and information. See: www.networkfso.org