How the IIROC Complaints Process Works

If you think that an advisor or someone else at an IIROC-regulated firm has broken the rules, we want to hear from you. While IIROC cannot assist you directly in getting your money back, the participation of the public in the IIROC complaints process contributes to the success of our efforts to enhance confidence in the fairness of capital markets.

Investors might wish to make a complaint about the actions of their advisor or the advisor’s firm, or about trading activity on a stock exchange or alternative trading system (ATS). Either way, you have the option of launching a complaint directly with the firm or taking the complaint to IIROC, or both.

Investors seeking compensation can take their complaints to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), the Arbitration program or, for Quebec residents, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) mediation service. More information about these options can be found under Getting Your Money Back.

Call our Info/Complaint Line at 1 (877) 442-4322 if you prefer to speak to IIROC staff about making a complaint. IIROC records all calls to and from Complaints & Inquiries team telephone lines.


How IIROC-Regulated Firms Must Respond to Complaints?


Investors can complain directly to the firm's management or compliance department if they have a complaint with their firm or advisor. A prompt letter of complaint is often the fastest and easiest way to resolve disagreements and settle disputes.

When making a complaint to a firm, be clear about what went wrong and when. Let the firm know the outcome that you are expecting (for example, an apology or getting your account corrected).

  • IIROC-regulated firms must comply with IIROC rules for handling complaints

  • Your firm must explain to you how to make a complaint to them and provide you with the proper contact information.

  • Your firm must give you the brochure: Making a Complaint: An Investor's Guide. This brochure, which must be issued at the time an account is opened, again when a written complaint is made and a third time when your firm provides you with a response, explains how to make a complaint to both IIROC-regulated firms and IIROC.

Even with service complaints, where rule infractions are not alleged, IIROC rules require firms to respond in writing to all written complaints.


Complaints involving possible rule infractions regarding your account


  • For this type of complaint, your firm must acknowledge and respond by writing to you within five business days.

  • Your firm must also provide their final decision to you within 90 calendar days. The decision must include:

    1. A summary of your complaint;

    2. The results of your firm's investigation;

    3. An explanation of the final decision; and

    4. information about other options for seeking compensation, in case you are not satisfied with your firm's decision.

  • If your firm cannot provide a response within the 90-day period, it must inform you of the delay, the reason for the delay and the expected new response time.



How IIROC Responds to Investor Complaints?


Every complaint that IIROC receives is reviewed by a staff member who will help you through the process. We document receipt of your complaint and carefully review the information you have provided. We interpret the facts to see if an IIROC rule has been broken. We can take action only if a rule we enforce has been broken. In some cases, we may take informal action short of a public disciplinary hearing to address undesirable behaviour by individual registrants or regulated firms.


What we need from you, in order to look into your complaint?


  • Your name and contact information.

  • The name and contact information of any individual or firm mentioned in your complaint.

  • Specific details of how, why and when you encountered problems with your investments or investment professional.

  • Specific details of the security and trades involved, if appropriate.

  • IIROC staff may request additional information to ensure each file is thoroughly considered.


How we keep you informed?


  • IIROC will send you an acknowledgement letter on receipt of your complaint.

  • We will update you when the initial assessment is completed or, when possible, even earlier.

  • If we start an investigation, we will notify you and you may be contacted to provide additional information.


What we look at when we consider whether to begin an investigation?


  • Jurisdiction: Does the complaint involve an industry employee registered with IIROC or an IIROC-regulated firm?

  • Jurisdiction: Does the complaint involving trading activity on a Canadian marketplace regulated by IIROC?

  • Does the complaint involve activity that is subject to IIROC rules (i.e. not customer service related)?

  • What is the severity of the complaint?

  • Is it likely that disciplinary action will have a deterrence effect and lead to improved behaviour by individual registrants, regulated firms or the industry as a whole?

  • Is there preliminary evidence of an IIROC rule breach or is there evidence that is likely to be sufficient to prove a rule violation?


What happens if we do not pursue an investigation based on your complaint?


  • We will inform you of our decision. Any information obtained during the course of our review remains confidential.

  • We may suggest other ways of solving the issues you've raised, if possible.

  • We keep it on file in our Case Tracking System for reference.

  • We may refer the case to another regulator or police force.

  • We may issue a warning letter to the firm or registered individual, or take other appropriate action.


Penalties that IIROC Hearing Panels can enforce against approved registered employees at IIROC-regulated firms can include:


  • Fines, up to a maximum of $1 million per contravention or an amount equal to three times the profit made, or loss avoided, due to the contravention;

  • Imposition of conditions on current approval in one or more categories of employment;

  • Suspension of current approval in one or more categories of employment for any period of time and upon any conditions or terms;

  • Prohibition of the right to seek future approval in one or more categories of employment;

  • A ban, permanent or for a specific period of time, on approval in any or all categories of employment; and

  • Any other fit remedy or penalty.


Penalties against firms regulated by IIROC can include:


  • A reprimand;

  • Fines, up to a maximum of $5 million per contravention or an amount equal to three times the profit made or loss avoided due to the contravention;

  • Imposition of conditions on membership;

  • Suspension for any period of time and upon any conditions or terms;

  • Expulsion; and

  • Any other fit remedy or penalty.

When a Hearing Panel determines an appropriate penalty, it considers the general principles and guidelines above. These principles and guidelines may be taken into account when determining the appropriate penalty to be imposed as part of a Settlement Agreement or at the end of a disciplinary hearing.


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