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What are the responsibilities of the new National Financial Services OmbudService?

As of late October 2002, the Centre for the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork (CFSON), which was originally announced as the National Financial Services OmbudService (NFSO), will provide Canada’s financial services consumers with single-window access to complaint resolution services in the banking, life and health insurance, general insurance, securities and mutual funds industries.

The Centre’s goal is to ensure that consumer questions, concerns and complaints are treated fairly and consistently across the financial services industry in a timely, accurate and courteous manner. If consumers have concerns or complaints with their providers and are unsure how or where to begin, they can call the Centre and be put in touch with someone who will guide them through the appropriate complaint resolution process. Depending on the where they are in the process, the Centre will steer consumers towards the appropriate industry contact, industry-level ombudservice or in some cases, regulator or other agency. The Centre will also be responsible for identifying and promoting industry best practices relating to consumer services and complaint handling as well as standards. Through its Consumer assistance and referral service, the Centre will be in a position to analyze trends and provide timely feedback to industry. As part of the initiative, each industry group is sponsoring a new dispute resolution service operating independently of the industry association and complete with its own board. The three ombudservices are: the Canadian Life and Health Insurance OmbudService, the General Insurance OmbudService and the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, which expands the role of the former Canadian Banking Ombudsman to include ombudservices for clients of banks, member firms of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada, the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, and most federally regulated trust and loan companies. Consumers will not be charged for any of the complaint resolution services offered by the Centre or the OmbudServices. The ombudservices will work with consumers and industry members to find solutions and make recommendations. The financial services provider will not be obligated to follow the recommendations but if it does not, the respective ombudservice will publicize this outcome. Link: Centre for the Financial Services OmbudsNetwork www.cfson-crcsf.ca