Consultation on FCAC’s proposed Guideline on Complaint-Handling Procedures for Banks and Authorized Foreign Banks
Current status: Open
This consultation is open. All submissions must be received by December 11, 2021.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) invites comments on a proposed Guideline on Complaint-Handling Procedures for Banks and Authorized Foreign Banks (Guideline) in support of the implementation of the new Financial Consumer Protection Framework (FCPF) in the Bank Act. The FCPF introduces new or enhanced consumer protection measures that will further empower and protect consumers in their dealings with banks and authorized foreign banks (banks).
The Guideline sets out clear principles and expectations that banks should use when developing their policies and procedures to ensure they deal with consumer complaints promptly, consistently, and in a manner that is easy for consumers to navigate and understand.
The consultation will give all interested parties an opportunity to express their views and enable FCAC to benefit from a wide range of perspectives.
This is the first in a series of consultations on guidelines that FCAC has developed to help banks comply with their obligations in the Bank Act and the new Financial Consumer Protection Framework Regulations, which will come into force on June 30, 2022. Consultations on proposed guidelines on whistleblowing and appropriate products and services are also planned.
How to participate
FCAC invites all interested parties to submit their comments by email to FCAC.Consultation.ACFC@fcac-acfc.gc.ca.
FCAC will also accept written comments by mail or fax at:
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Supervision and Promotion Branch
427 Laurier Avenue West, 6th floor
Ottawa, ON K1R 1B9
FCAC may wish to quote from or summarize your submission in its public documents and post all or part of it on Canada.ca. We may revise submissions to remove sensitive or identifying information. If you would prefer that FCAC withhold all or part of your comments from its public documents, please indicate this clearly in your submission.
Who is this consultation for
The consultation is primarily intended for the financial industry and stakeholders with an interest in consumer protection. Interested members of the public are also invited to participate.
In 2017 and 2018, 2 FCAC reports highlighted key areas where legislation and regulations could better protect financial consumers and strengthen regulatory oversight of banks. The first was an assessment of best practices in provincial, territorial and international consumer protection regimes in the Report on Best Practices in Financial Consumer Protection. The second was a review of bank sales practices in the Domestic Bank Retail Sales Practices Review.
To address the issues raised in these reports, the federal government introduced legislative amendments to the Bank Act in 2018 to create what is referred to as the FCPF. The FCPF contains new or enhanced requirements for complaint-handling procedures in the banking sector. The recently published Financial Consumer Protection Framework Regulations add detail and specificity to certain legislative obligations, including some complaint-handling provisions.
In 2019, FCAC conducted its Industry Review: Bank Complaint-Handling Procedures to assess the effectiveness, accessibility and timeliness of complaint-handling in the Canadian banking system. Findings from that report, which was published in 2020, were used to develop the proposed Guideline.
FCAC is seeking comments and feedback on the following document:
The proposed Guideline sets out FCAC’s expectations with respect to banks and authorized foreign banks’ implementation of, and compliance with, the new complaint-handling provisions in the Bank Act and the Financial Consumer Protection Framework Regulations, which will come into force June 30, 2022.
The new legislative and regulatory requirements incorporate key elements of the existing financial consumer protection rules and introduce new or enhanced measures for complaint handling. They require banks to:
- establish complaint-handling policies and procedures that satisfy the Commissioner of FCAC
- deal with each complaint within 56 days following the day it is received
- designate an officer or employee in Canada to implement complaint-handling policies and procedures
- designate officer(s) or employee(s) in Canada to receive and deal with complaints
- refrain from using misleading terms with respect to complaint-handling procedures, including any term that suggests that the procedures, officers or employees are independent of the bank (e.g., “ombudsman”)
- create records of all complaints and retain them for 7 years
- report quarterly to FCAC regarding complaints that their designated employees or officers receive during the quarter
FCAC expects banks to review and revise their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the applicable consumer provisions under the Bank Act and applicable regulations. In addition, banks should be guided by the principles and expectations detailed in the Guideline when establishing their complaint-handling policies and procedures.
FCAC will consider all comments received and may modify the proposed Guideline, where appropriate. FCAC plans to publish an anonymized summary of comments on Canada.ca once the final version of the Guideline is released.
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