OBSI reports uptick in consumer complaints

OBSI reports uptick in consumer complaints

OBSI reports uptick in consumer complaints

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) has released its 2017 Annual Report, which outlines its accomplishments and issues encountered for the year.

“This was a very successful year for OBSI, in which we launched our new five-year strategic plan and made significant progress towards the accomplishment of our key objectives,” said Ombudsman and CEO Sarah Bradley.

The OBSI investigated 721 cases in 2017, a 13% increase compared to the year previous, which was largely due to a rise in banking complaints. “There were 370 banking cases opened in 2017, a 28% increase compared to last year, while the number of opened investment cases remained flat at 351 cases,” Bradley said.

Credit cards were the most prevalent banking-product complaint category, comprising 30% of cases; problems with chargebacks were the main issue, replacing fraud as the leading credit-card problem. Mortgages made up 18% of banking cases, with prepayment penalties and wrong or incomplete issues being the main points of contention.

As for investment-related complaints, OBSI said common shares or equities were the number one problematic product, representing about 38% of investment complaints in 2017. Mutual funds followed, accounting for 35% of cases — a significant decline from the 44% observed in 2016. Across all investment products, the top issues reported were suitability (27%), fee disclosure (17%), suitability of margin or leverage (9%), and incomplete or inaccurate product disclosure (9%).

The reported incidence of suitability-related issues was flat compared to 2016. Fee disclosure issues reported were up from 2016’s 10%, while both margin or leverage issues and product disclosure issues reported were down from the previous year’s tallies (15% and 11%, respectively).

In 2017, OBSI recommended a total of $165,023 in compensation across 79 closed bank-complaint cases, and $2,591,996 across 150 closed investment complaints. No OBSI recommendation was refused by any participating firm last year.

"We also made some significant investments in our essential infrastructure this year, including improvements to our case management systems to allow faster and more accurate reporting, and a complete redesign of our website to give Canadian consumers and firms better access to information about us, our service and our insights,” Bradley said.

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