FAIR Canada releases comprehensive consumer complaint guide

New guide presents all relevant information in one place and in an easy-to-follow format

FAIR Canada releases comprehensive consumer complaint guide

A new detailed guide on how to file a complaint against a bank, investment dealer, or mutual fund dealer was just released by FAIR Canada. The guide, which is written in straightforward English, is intended to assist Canadians in resolving concerns involving financial losses or excessive costs.

“Most regulators are ill-equipped to help Canadians get their money back when dealing with a bank or investment dealer. So, it is important that Canadians understand the steps they need to take if they want to be financially compensated,” said Jean-Paul Bureaud, Executive Director, FAIR Canada. “Unfortunately, navigating Canada’s fragmented and complex complaint-handling process can be a real challenge in itself.”

This guide is a crucial step in achieving FAIR Canada's goal of empowering financial consumers. As part of its advocacy, the group has been among many voices repeatedly urging progress on Canada’s complaint-handling system for financial institutions.

Among its many wish-list items, the group says the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) should be given a mandate of binding authority on its decisions as a way to address the continuing issue of low-ball complaint settlements. A recent independent review of OBSI found that over a five-year period, investors received nearly $3 million less in settlements from investment firms than what OBSI had recommended.

“Our new guide fills a void by presenting all the critical information in one place, in an easy-to-follow format for main street investors and bank customers,” Bureaud said.

Earlier this year, FAIR Canada also published a report on the advisor-client relationship, indicating conflicting findings and certain areas that may require some work.

According to the report, nearly 80% of investors consult advisors, and the majority substantially rely on their advisors' recommendations. Unfortunately, most investors acknowledge that they lack the confidence to act independently.

Even though the majority of investors claim to trust their advisor, more than 40% expressed worries that this person would act unethically or inappropriately, and almost 60% were concerned they might be persuaded to buy something they weren't ready for. Nearly 80% of respondents expressed concern about how much they are paying in fees, and more than 60% said they don't understand the charges they make.