Which clients will complain?

By Staff | May 24, 2012 | Last updated on May 24, 2012
2 min read

If you ever wanted to know what kind of client is most likely to file a complaint, a report from the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) helps clarify the picture.

OBSI hired a third party research firm to analyze the complaints it dealt with over the past year, and found that seniors make up the majority of complainants (53%). Among senior complainants, 70% were already retired, while 17% were either self-employed or working part-time.

“For many of these individuals, the financial harm they suffer when a bank or investment firm makes a mistake is magnified by having fewer years to make up the losses and fewer income or job opportunities,” the report says.

Complainants also tended to be well-educated, with almost 80% holding a trade certificate, college diploma or university degree. Among the general population over age 15, only 52% hold similar credentials, according to StatsCan.

This disparity could stem from the higher earning potential of people with higher education, which would increase their contact with the financial services sector.

The study also found that visible minorities were under-represented in the complaint system, making up 11.6% of complaints, compared to 16.2% of the general population.

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“While cultural factors may play a role, more research is needed into why we are still not reaching this important segment of Canadians in the way we should be,” OBSI said. “While we already handle inquiries in over 170 languages, include information in multiple languages on our website, and engage regularly with several ethnic media outlets, more can and should be done.”

Perhaps the most troubling finding of the study, though, was that 30% of complainants said they were not informed by their bank or investment company of their right to file a complaint with the Ombudsman’s office.

“There are rules and established processes for financial institutions that participate in our service to inform their customers about OBSI and their right to bring a complaint to us,” the report says. “We sometimes see firm correspondence is silent about OBSI, directs the client back to an internal firm contact, or simply presents the complaint as being closed. In other instances clients either did not notice the information about OBSI because of the way it was delivered or they simply forgot.”

Advisor.ca staff


The staff of Advisor.ca have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.