OBSI issues inaugural Canadian seniors’ complaints report

The watchdog shared the common characteristics of senior complainants, as well as their typical grievances

OBSI issues inaugural Canadian seniors’ complaints report

In line with other regulators who are increasing their emphasis on senior protection, the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) has released its first Seniors Report, which covered demographic and case data on complainants aged 60 years old and above from 2017 and 2018.

“While seniors represent less than a third of the Canadian population, they accounted for 38% of the complaints that OBSI received over a two-year period,” OBSI said in a statement.

According to the report, 57% of senior complainants were men, whereas Canada’s senior population is split equally between men and women. Fifty-five per cent of senior complainants were married, while 13% were widowed, 12% were divorced, 11% single, 5% in common-law relationships, and 3% separated. Just over half (54%) of senior complainants said their household income was less than $60,000.

“More than 30% of seniors who made a complaint to OBSI continue to be active in the workforce,” the report said, noting that half of that group were self-employed. Sixty-four per cent of the senior complainants were said to be retired. In terms of residence, 53% said they were urban residents, 27% lived in the suburbs, 18% in rural areas, and 2% in remote areas.

Based on OBSI’s analysis of complainants by age, Canadians became more likely to make investment-related complaints as they get older, from 8% of those in the 20-29 age range to 30% of those between 60 and 69 years old.

On the banking side, the report found that credit cards were the most complaint-worthy product as cited by 31% of complainants between 60 and 69 years old, as well as 28% of those over 70. Mortgage products accounted for a quarter of complaints among 60- to 69-year-olds, but only 10% of those submitted by people older than 70.

Across all age groups, fraud was the most frequently reported banking issue; it was brought up by 13% of 60- to 69-year old complainants and 15% of those over 70. Product information disclosure and misrepresentation were also concerns, cited by 12% of 60- to 69-year olds and 13% of complainants who were older than 70. Also notable were issues regarding missing or lost funds, cited by 15% of those over 70.

Turning to investment products, the report said that seniors are more likely than younger Canadians to complain about most kinds of offerings. The OBSI said it most frequently deals with complaints about mutual-fund products (cited by 39% of complainants under 60, 44% of those between 60 and 69 years old, and 41% of those over 70) and common shares (33%, 36%, and 39%, respectively).

Looking specifically at issues with investment products, the report found more than a third of investment issues centred on suitability for complainants 60 to 69 years old and complainants over 70. Complaints related to fee disclosure, misrepresentation or calculation, as well as issues with product information disclosure and/or misrepresentation, were more likely to be reported by complainants under 60 years old.


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