How to Seek Financial Compensation After Filing a Complaint

Sometimes investors lose money because of an action or inaction made by their investment firm, and those investors may seek financial compensation from their investment firm. The information below outlines some of the ways you may seek financial compensation from a firm.

First Make a Complaint When Seeking Financial Compensation

If you are seeking financial compensation from an investment firm or an investment representative, the first step is to complain to the investment firm. You can complain by speaking with the investment firm or you can complain in writing. If you complain by speaking with the investment firm, it is a good idea to send a written complaint too so that you can show that you raised your concern. You can search the name of your investment firm here.

Your written complaint can be brief. In your written complaint, include a short description of what went wrong and a short description of the consequences. You can email your written complaint or send it as a letter.

When you complain to a registered firm, it must acknowledge your complaint in writing as soon as possible. If the registered firm decides to reject your complaint or makes an offer to resolve it, then the registered firm must inform you in writing.

If You Disagree with Your Investment Firm’s Response, Get an Independent View at no Cost

If you are not satisfied with the registered firm’s response, then you can complain to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OBSI), an independent dispute resolutions service. OBSI is independent from registered firms and provides impartial and informal reviews of investment disputes. OBSI’s services are free to use, and it can recommend compensation of up to $350,000.

You can complain directly to OBSI if the registered firm does not send you its written decision within 90 days. If the registered firm sends you its written decision within 90 days, then you have 180 days to complain to OBSI.

You do not need a lawyer to complain to OBSI about a registered firm’s response to your complaint. OBSI considers disputes between individuals and

  • investment dealers
  • mutual fund dealers
  • portfolio managers
  • exempt market dealers
  • scholarship plan dealers

You can make an online complaint to OBSI here. You may also contact OBSI by telephone or in writing, and if needed, OBSI provides accessibility tools to assist individuals with disabilities. Visit this link for more information about OBSI.

You can complain to the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), or the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) about a registered firm or an individual representative at the same time you complain to OBSI to seek financial compensation.

Additional Options for Seeking Financial Compensation

Optional Process with a Registered Firm

Some registered firms (in particular, subsidiaries of Canadian banks) have their own optional, internal process that begins after the firm’s written decision. The staff administering this process are often called internal ombudsmen. A registered firm’s internal ombudsman is different from OBSI. You are not required to have a registered firm’s internal ombudsman consider your complaint before contacting OBSI. Using the registered firm’s internal ombudsman process could leave you with less than 180 days to complain to OBSI.

Civil Action

At any time, you may discuss your complaint with a lawyer to get advice. If you consult a lawyer, you might hear about suing for compensation. There are two ways to do this in BC:

  1. BC Small Claims Court is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to sue for compensation and damages up to a maximum of $35,000. Most people represent themselves in small claims court.
  2. BC Supreme Court is the court you would use to sue for more than $35,000. In BC Supreme Court, a lawyer should represent you.

Binding Arbitration

If your complaint is about an investment dealer and the amount of the dispute is $500,000 or less, you can use IIROC’s binding arbitration program as an alternative to going to court. In binding arbitration, you agree to treat the independent arbitrator’s decision as final and you give up the right to go to court or use any other dispute resolution service, including OBSI.

What if the Investment Firm’s Action or Inaction Involved Wrongdoing?

The BCSC is responsible for protecting investors and regulating the province’s investment markets. We encourage complaints from the public to help us detect, disrupt, and deter market misconduct. If you believe your investment firm’s action or inaction involves wrongdoing, you can contact us with your complaint or concern.

The BCSC also oversees other organizations that set and enforce rules of conduct for many market participants, including organizations that regulate investment dealers and mutual fund dealers. Those organizations are IIROC and the MFDA. In most cases, these regulators are responsible for investigating investor complaints against members and their representatives.

If you have any concerns about a person or company offering an investment opportunity, please contact BCSC Inquiries at 604-899-6854 or 1-800-373-6393 or through e-mail at [email protected]. You can also file a complaint or submit a tip anonymously using BCSC’s online complaint form. is the BCSC’s investor education website. Subscribe to receive email updates from BCSC InvestRight.

Suggested Reading

Mutual Fund Fees Explained

Promises, promises

Investment Caution List: Binary Options, Forex, and More

More Resources

New Year’s resolution: 10 minutes a day to protect my investments

Happy New Year from! This year, instead of resolving to lose weight, get fit, or become a top-notch organizer, why not take on something new—like learning how to protect your investments. We don’t like to think that anything bad can happen to us, or the money we invest. Yet 40% of Canadian adults have […]

Mutual Fund Fees Explained

Learn about what you're paying for when you buy or sell a mutual fund.