If You Have a Complaint:
- Contact your Mutual Fund Dealer. Member firms are responsible to you, the investor, for monitoring the actions of their representatives to ensure that they are in compliance with the by-laws, rules and policies governing their activities. The Member will investigate any complaint that you initiate and respond back to you with the results of their investigation in a timely manner, usually within three months of receipt of the complaint. It is helpful if your complaint is in writing.
- Contact the MFDA. You may call our complaints area at 416-361-6332 or toll-free at 1-888-466-6332 or write to us using the complaint form available on our website. You may contact us by e-mail at [email protected], by fax at 416-361-9073 or by regular mail.
- Contact the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. Information regarding the Ombudsman follows.
- Consider contacting a lawyer. A lawyer may be able to assist you with your complaint. Information regarding applicable limitation periods for commencing a civil action is set out below.
- The Investor Protection Clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School provides free legal advice to people who believe their investments were mishandled and who cannot afford a lawyer. The clinic is staffed with Osgoode Hall Law School students that are paired with supervising lawyers from law firms in Ontario. If the Clinic is able to take you on as a client, you will be paired with a student-lawyer team that will provide you with legal assistance. You can find more information on the clinic’s process and an online contact form at this link.
- If you live in Manitoba, New Brunswick or Saskatchewan: Securities regulatory authorities in these provinces have the power to, in appropriate cases, order that a person or company that has contravened securities laws in their province pay compensation to a claimant. The claimant is then able to enforce such an order as if it were a judgment of the superior court in that province. Consult the website of your provincial securities commission for more information.
- If you live in Québec: The Autorité des marchés financiers (“AMF”) pays indemnities to victims of fraud, fraudulent tactics or embezzlement where those responsible are individuals or firms authorized to practice under the legislation governing the provision of financial services in Quebec. It also rules on the eligibility of claims and sets the amount of the indemnities to be paid to victims. Consumers can thus be compensated to a maximum of $200,000 per claim, through funds accumulated in a financial services compensation fund. Consult the AMF’s website for more information.
Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments
The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (“OBSI”) is an organization independent of government, the financial services industry and the MFDA. It investigates unresolved complaints from individuals and small businesses about financial services firms.
OBSI can make a non-binding recommendation that your firm compensate you (up to $350,000) if it determines that you have been treated unfairly, taking into account the criteria of good financial services and business practice, relevant codes of practice or conduct, industry regulation and the law.
After the dealer’s Compliance Department has responded to your complaint, you may contact the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. You may also contact OBSI if the dealer’s Compliance Department has not responded within 90 days of the date you complained. Please also be aware that, where you receive a written response to your complaint by the MFDA Member involved, OBSI may have to refuse to investigate your complaint if you do not file it with OBSI within 180 calendar days of receiving that response. OBSI provides an independent and impartial process for the investigation and resolution of complaints about the provision of financial services to clients. The OBSI process is free of charge and is confidential. OBSI can be contacted by telephone in Toronto at (416) 287-2877, or toll free at 1-888-451-4519, or by e-mail at [email protected].
You may consider retaining a lawyer to assist with the complaint. You should be aware that there are legal time limits for taking civil action. A lawyer can advise you of your options and recourses. Once the applicable limitation period expires, you may lose rights to pursue some claims.
For further information regarding limitation periods in your province/territory, contact a lawyer or your provincial/territorial government.
Remember you can contact the MFDA if you have questions about making a complaint or to discuss alternatives at 416-361-6332 or toll-free at 1-888-466-6332.
Filing Your Complaint:
Filing a Complaint with the MFDA
When filing a complaint with the MFDA you may:
Filing a complaint with a Member Firm:
Under MFDA Rules, Member firms have certain responsibilities when it comes to handling client complaints. (See MFDA Policy No. 3.) When a client opens an account with a Member, the Member must give them a copy of the Client Complaint Information Form (“CCIF”) and a written summary of the Member’s complaint handling procedures. The Member must also provide an initial point of contact at Member head officer for filing complaints or gathering information about the complaint handling process.
When a Member receives a complaint they must:
- Assess every complaint fairly and promptly
- Acknowledge the complaint promptly, usually within 5 business days. Where a complaint is received in writing, the Member will respond in writing. At this time, the firm will provide you with another copy of the CCIF and may request additional information from you to assist them in resolving your complaint.
- Unless your complaint can be resolved informally sooner, provide their decision to you within 90 calendar days, along with:
- An outline of your complaint;
- The results of their investigation and the reasons for their final decision;
- Information about other options for seeking compensation, in case you are not satisfied with the firm’s response.
- Another copy of the CCIF.
- If your firm cannot provide a response within 90 days, they must inform you, explain the reason for the delay and provide you with the new expected response date.
Tips when filing a complaint:
- Contact the MFDA. You can contact the MFDA at any time. You do not need a response from your dealer first.
- Gather your facts. Think about the problem and the result that you want. Write down the main points in the order that they occurred. Note the name of the firm, the accounts and products involved, who you dealt with, key dates and the circumstances surrounding the issue. Put together a file of any supporting documents. Include copies of application forms, statements, transaction confirmations, cancelled cheques and all relevant correspondence to and from the firm. Never send the originals of any documents in case they get lost.
- Put it in writing. If possible, it’s best to make your complaint in writing. Make sure you include your complete address and a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached.
- Document your actions. Document all the steps you take to resolve your complaint. Put together a file of relevant documents like application forms, agreements and account statements. Keep copies of letters, faxes, e-mails and notes of conversations.
- Act quickly. It’s important to file your complaint right away and to respond quickly to any requests for more information. Delays could limit your options and legal rights later on.
- Be Clear. When making a complaint to an MFDA Member dealer, be clear about whom you are complaining about, what you are complaining about, and when things went wrong. It is also helpful to state the outcome you are seeking, such as an apology or getting your account corrected.