Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) chair Helen Coonan has backed a new financial services law firm at its launch.
Legal veterans David Cooper, Sarah Street and Fiona Dernikovic have founded the new practice, FinLaw, claiming it to be the first legal locum business for the finance industry offering short-term work.
One of the founders, Ms Dernikovic is a senior regulatory lawyer. She commented that with so much focus on finance institutions’ management of risk and regulation, the pressure on in-house teams has amplified post-royal commission.
The venture has sought to meet demand for financial services legal and risk specialists on a temporary basis.
Ms Coonoan spoke at FinLaw’s launch in Sydney on Thursday. She noted AFCA had seen a 40 per cent increase in complaints received in the 12 months leading up to 31 October, compared to complaints made to the body’s predecessor schemes.
“Consumer awareness and greater regulatory scrutiny mean that financial institutions, more than ever, must work harder to comply with the law and satisfy community expectations,” she said.
“FinLaw will provide a valuable service for firms to resource up to meet these challenges and peak demands.”
Co-founder Mr Cooper is a former financial services partner at Freehills for 26 years.
Referring to the trio’s knowledge of the finance sector, he commented: “We immediately understand the complex legal issues that clients are facing, and are better placed to identify the consultants with the right skill set. This leads to great outcomes for both clients and consultants.”
Meanwhile, Ms Street, who has worked in recruiting for more than 20 years, stated there is increasing demand from professionals for more control around their time and career choices, leading to a growing number of highly skilled consultants on the market.
“Increasingly, lawyers are looking for flexible roles, whether it be professionals returning to the workforce or people in the ‘second phase’ of their career who are exceptionally experienced but don’t want or need to make a long career path,” she said.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].