Investors react to new bank complaints process

“Our government is committed to protecting consumers,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Wednesday. ”These new rules create a stronger, more independent consumer complaint system, by setting high, pro-consumer standards that all banks and authorized foreign banks must meet.”

What those new rules don’t do is return the complaints process to a federal ombudsman and take it out of the hands of bank-appointed players – a major source of concern for consumer advocates and some investors now grappling with their own lender concerns.

The new regs, according to the government, create greater transparency and build on the requirement banks belong to a “federally approved external complaints body. At the same time, the new rules extend monitoring and enforcement powers to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).”

Still, banks will still be allowed to select their external complaints body, which will now be subject to “high standards for independence, timeliness and transparency.”

For example, reads a statement from Department of finance, “the regulations formalize existing expectations that banks and authorized foreign banks notify customers of the name and contact information of their external complaints body. External complaints bodies will also be expected to assist Canadians who are a party to a complaint by helping them navigate the complaint-handling process.”

Investors were among those looking for more substantive reform and for the government to withdraw the option for banks to fund and appoint their own adjudicators.

That call has grown louder since the introduction on B20 guidelines meant to hold banks more accountable for their underwriting.

Still some investors charge that those big lenders have instituted policies outside the ambit of the new protocol that unfairly penalize small investors.

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