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Ombudsman for banking services and investments

The meaning of «ombudsman for banking services and investments»

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) is a Canadian organization whose responsibility is to handle the financial disputes of consumers and small businesses that could not be resolved by the customers and the financial firms on their own. The OBSI provides the service on an impartial and independent basis, and free of charge to the consumer as an alternative to the legal system.

OBSI is Canada's national independent dispute resolution service (ADR) for consumers or small businesses with a complaint they can't resolve with their financial services firm. As a free alternative to the legal system, OBSI works informally and confidentially to find fair outcomes to disputes about banking and investment products and services.

If OBSI decides that a firm has acted unfairly, made an error or given a customer bad advice, and the customer lost money as a result, it will recommend that the firm restore your financial position to where it should have been. OBSI may also recommend other types of non-financial compensation when appropriate. If OBSI thinks a customer has been treated fairly, or the settlement offer the customer has previously received from a firm is fair, OBSI will inform the customer and let them know the reasons why it believes so. While OBSI cannot order a firm to follow a recommendation, OBSI has an excellent record of firms – and clients – accepting its recommendations. OBSI will make public the name of any firm that refuses a recommendation.

The limit for OBSI's recommendations is $350,000. However, if a customer's claim is for an amount higher than $350,000 the customer can voluntarily reduce it.

OBSI is not a regulator, and because OBSI is impartial it does not advocate for consumers or the industry. That also means OBSI doesn't give advice – financial, legal or other. If a customer doesn't like OBSI's findings in a case, the customer is still able to go to a lawyer or seek other ways of resolving the dispute.

OBSI was founded in 1996 as the Canadian Banking Ombudsman to review complaints by small business against the chartered banks. In a few short months the mandate was expanded to cover unresolved consumer complaints as well.

In 2002, as a result of discussions among government, industry and consumer groups about improving consumer protection in financial services, all members of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada joined the organization. At the same time OBSI invited credit unions to join and changed its name to "Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments" (OBSI).

In 2013, the Canadian Securities Administrators announced amendments to National Instrument 31-103 Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations (NI 31-103) and Companion Policy 31-103CP Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations that will require all registered dealers and advisers outside of Quebec to use OBSI as their provider of dispute-resolution services. By August 1, 2014, all registered dealers must be members in OBSI, with the effect that OBSI's membership will more than double, to over 1600 participating firms.

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