ONE of Australia's newest banking watchdogs said the number of complaints received in its first year was 40 per cent higher than expected.
While it has managed to award $185 million in compensation as a result of 73,000 complaints, there is more work to be done, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority said.
The watchdog believes there is still a low level of awareness and has encouraged more people to come forward.
There were 142 financial complaints from within the Gunnedah Shire Council area, slightly outnumbering grievances in Tamworth (114), in the last year which resulted in $241,000 awarded in compensation.
AFCA's small business ombudsman Geoff Browne said the banking royal commission had put the sector on notice.
But he said customers still had help at hand.
"I think a lot of that is the [commissioner] Hayne-factor," Mr Browne said.
"I think there is more awareness of their rights that you can complain.
"Unfortunately, we know there is very low awareness of us."
AFCA had a pop-up stall in Tamworth this week to offer free advice on the complaints process.
The authority was designed as a one-stop-shop for financial issues.
"If you have a complaint about your bank, insurer, financial adviser or superannuation fund ... you can lodge your complaint with us," Mr Browne said.
But the watchdog doesn't just help with compensation.
"We can vary contract terms, waive guarantees or security, extend payment terms, allow time for asset sales," Mr Browne said.
"We will have a look at the complaint with fresh eyes, we will try and get agreement from both parties but if we don't, we can make decisions which are binding."
People can lodge complaints through AFCA's website.
AFCA is an independent, not-for-profit body operating under rules set by ASIC.
Recent research showed fewer than one out of every two people with a concern about their financial firm actually lodge a complaint.