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What is Bank Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) is a Canadian organization tasked to manage financial disputes and complaints of individual consumers and small entrepreneurs that cannot be resolved by clients and financial institutions. The OSBI is expected to render an unbiased decision. This is supposed to be free of charge to the customer as substitute for the legal system.
This article will discuss briefly the OSBI’s functions, its history and organization as well as some recent issues regarding Canada’s banking ombudsman.

What are the OSBI’s Functions?

OBSI is Canada's national independent dispute resolution service for consumers or small businesses with grievances that cannot be settled with their financial services firm. As a free alternative to the legal system, OBSI works unofficially and in confidence to clear up arguments about banking and investment products and services.
If the Ombudsman believes a firm acted unjustly, committed a mistake or gave customers flawed advice that caused the customer to lose money, it will ask the company to restore the customer’s financial position. It may recommend other forms of non-financial compensation when appropriate. If the Ombudsman 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 compel a firm to follow a recommendation, the Ombudsman has an excellent record of firms and clients who– accepting its recommendations. It 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. It does not advocate for consumers or the industry. It does not give financial and legal advice. If a customer does not agree with OBSI’s findings in a case, the customer may to go to a lawyer or seek other methods of resolving the dispute.

What is the Organizational Structure of the OSBI

The OSBI was created in 1996 to evaluate complaints of small-scale businesses against chartered banks. It has more than 600 participating companies from banking services and the investment sector. The independent Board of Directors is responsible for the overall governance of the service. It meets regularly with government supervisory bodies or regulators, policymakers, industry as well as consumer representatives. However, it makes sure to maintain its complete independence. The Ombudsman heads the staff and supervises two teams. One handles banking services while the other focuses on investments.

What are recent developments regarding the Banking Ombudsman?

The Banking Ombudsman strives to maintain its integrity while trying to render excellent service for consumers and small business owners.
A recent report filed by the Globe and Mail said that Canada’s banking ombudsman is preparing significant changes to the way it handles complaints against the country’s financial institutions in a bid to track cases that involve people who suffer from dementia.
“The decision will help the federal government and 600 banks and financial services across the nation find out just how badly Canadians with diminished capacity are being mistreated when it comes to their money. The Toronto-based Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), the agency responsible for resolving consumers’ disputes with most Canadian banks and investment firms, plans to create a national case registry that will flag complaints in which dementia may be a factor.
With the aging of Canada’s population and the increasing number of people whose decision-making abilities may be impaired, the OBSI wants to pinpoint the extent of a problem that it has long suspected is growing but has had no way to assess. Last year, the agency’s investigators across the country opened 990 case files, about 40 per cent of which involved the elderly.
The move follows a Globe and Mail report this week that detailed extensive problems within the banking and legal systems because they are not equipped to cope with the effects of an affliction that impairs judgment and makes an individual more vulnerable to deception. A half-million Canadians currently suffer from some form of dementia, a figure the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada expects to reach 1.1 million within a generation, although the federal government has no strategy for coping with what many experts predict will be a socio-economic crisis.”

A Matter of Trust

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) does it s work based on the principles of trust, equality and speedy action. Consumers and small enterprises have to learn how to trust this independent body. It is one entity that can help them with their banking woes and other financial dilemmas.


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