Where to complain

Suddenly, everyone seems to want to encourage us to complain. In recent months, two new services have been launched to listen to your beef if you think you’ve been wronged by some sector of the financial industry.

The Centre for the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork (mercifully known by the acronym CFSON) officially became operational at the end of November. It will consider complaints relating to life insurance, general insurance, banking, brokerage firms, and mutual fund dealers. If you have a problem, you can call 1-866-538-3766 or go to their Web site at http://www.cfson-crcsf.ca for help. However, they won’t actually handle your complaint. Instead, they will direct you to the ombudservice of the appropriate governing body. And you must first have gone through the process of dealing with the offending company directly. In short, it looks more like another level of bureaucracy rather than a short-cut for harried investors, but we’ll see.

Also new on the scene is the Investor Complaints Services of the Mutual Fund Dealers Association. It handles problems arising from the sale of mutual funds, such as recommendations that a inappropriate for an investor’s risk profile.

The problem here is that you could go through a lengthy process and win your point, but not receive any restitution. The Service can make a recommendation but it does not have the power to order offending companies to make good on any losses a client might suffer because of inappropriate action by a sales representative.

If you want more than just the satisfaction of being told you were right, you will have to go to another level, either by taking legal action or by seeking help from CFSON.

You can reach the MFDA’s Complaints Service at 1-888-466-6332 or on the Internet at http://www.mfda.ca. Click on Enforcement.

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