The AMF released a draft regulation that is intended to harmonize the fair processing of complaints in the financial sector in Québec, and would apply to a number of financial institutions, financial intermediaries (including securities dealers and advisers) and credit assessment agents. The draft regulation sets out requirements for a dispute resolution policy, the appointment of a designated complaints officer, communication with complainants, a complaints register and a timeframe for dealing with complaints and/or forwarding the records to the AMF for examination. The draft also prohibits certain actions, such as using the term “ombudsman” in referring to the complaint process. It also sets out the various monetary administrative penalties that may be levied by the AMF for breaching the regulation.
Overview of the Council’s Comments:
The CAC supports the AMF’s efforts to strengthen and harmonize the complaint handling process across various financial sectors in Québec and believe several proposed provisions in the Draft Regulation are an improvement to the existing rules relating to registered dealers and advisers.
However, the CAC believes that the Draft Regulation could benefit from a more plain language statement on the intended outcome, and the goal that an effective complaint processing and dispute resolution has as its implicit objective.
The Draft Regulation in part may further complicate the array of existing complaint processing and dispute regulation mechanisms and provisions. As a result, it may place an unnecessary regulatory burden on organizations required to navigate more than one set of complaint resolution rules, even if the differences are subtle. Fragmented authorities and mechanisms may not result in a system that is more easily understood and navigated by consumers, which should be a primary targeted outcome.
The definition of a “complaint” is drafted broadly to capture definitional challenges across a variety of covered financial services. The CAC believes there should be additional specificity and examples of what could constitute a complaint, to ensure efficient use of time and resources.
It is vital that consumers have access to the proposed complaint drafting assistance service. It is similarly important that financial institutions, financial intermediaries and credit assessment agents ensure that clients are made aware of this service on a proactive basis, and that requirement should also be included in the Draft Regulation.