Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Financial Watchdog to Probe Banks' Complaints-Handling Processes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Federal Financial Watchdog to Probe Banks' Complaints-Handling Processes

Article excerpt

Financial watchdog to probe bank complaints

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TORONTO - Canada's financial consumer watchdog has got the green light to probe how banking customer complaints are handled internally and by external complaint bodies.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada said the new review is still in the planning stages but the government's direction in the fall economic statement Wednesday officially kicks off the process.

"We're going to analyze accessibility, timeliness and effectiveness of the complaint-handling processes of the banks and of the external complaint bodies," said FCAC spokesman Michael Toope.

The review to be completed by June will take a closer look at disputes handled by the banks internally and financial industry complaints escalated to third-parties such as the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBSI) and Investments and the ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office (ADRBO).

"When Canadians have disputes with their banks, they deserve access to a fair and impartial resolution process," the federal government said in the update.

The new review commences after the FCAC completed a probe of sales practices at Canada's Big Six banks earlier this year, prompted by media reports of alleged questionable sales tactics such as selling services without customer consent. The watchdog said in its report released in March that there were "insufficient" controls in place to prevent sales of financial products that are misrepresented or unsuitable.

The agency also said in that report it found many instances of "inadequate" complaint investigations and urged banks to improve their oversight, management and reporting of consumer complaints.

Canada's biggest banks each have an ombudsman which handles customer complaints but if those are not resolved the dispute can be escalated to an outside third party. …

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