If you suspect you may have lost money because your advisor or firm acted improperly, you may be eligible for compensation. The first step is to make a complaint directly to your firm. If your efforts are unsuccessful or you are not satisfied with the response, you can then consider other options to recover your money.
Although IIROC is not directly involved in the compensation process, all IIROC-regulated firms are required to participate in ombudsman and arbitration programs if the client chooses this option:
If you have questions regarding any option, call IIROC’s Complaints & Inquiries team at 1-877-442-4322 or email [email protected].
If your client account agreement has a clause either completely excluding your advisor’s or firm’s liability for any account losses, relieving your advisor or the firm from any regulatory obligation or setting arbitrary limits to your ability to recover damages, these clauses may not be appropriate. Read this Guidance Note for more information.
Download IIROC brochures for investors
Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) provides protection to investors who are clients of firms regulated by IIROC, in the event the firm becomes insolvent or ceases operations due to bankruptcy. CIPF is funded by IIROC-regulated firms and their membership is mandatory.
Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) resolves disputes between participating investment firms and their customers if they can't solve them on their own. OBSI is independent and impartial, and its services are free to consumers.
What you need to know about OBSI
- You must first complain to your IIROC-regulated firm. If you remain unsatisfied with your firm's response, you have the right to bring your complaint to OBSI and IIROC requires IIROC-regulated firms to take part in OBSI's process.
- The limit for OBSI recommendations is $350,000, but many cases are for much smaller amounts. However, if your claim is for an amount higher than $350,000 you can voluntarily reduce it.
- Download the OBSI’s Guide for Investors.
Other information about OBSI
- IIROC is a member of the Joint Regulators Committee (JRC), together with the
Mutual Fund Dealers Association and the
Canadian Securities Administrators jurisdictions. The JRC meets regularly with OBSI to discuss governance and operational matters and other significant issues that could influence the effectiveness of the dispute resolution system.
The OBSI Join Regulators Committee also produces an annual report:
- OBSI Independent Evaluation Report
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Quebec residents can use the free services of the
Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).
What you need to know about the AMF
- You must first complain to your IIROC-regulated investment firm. If you are not satisfied with your firm's response or how your complaint had been handled, you can ask the firm to transfer the complaint to the AMF.
- The AMF will then assess your complaint and in some cases will offer mediation services. The firm is not required to participate; however, firms generally agree to take part.
- You do not need to have a lawyer and usually investors do not have a lawyer represent them in the AMF's mediation services.
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The Investor Protection Clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School provides free legal advice to investors who believe their investments were mishandled and who cannot afford a lawyer. The Clinic may be able to assist you by:
- writing a complaint letter on your behalf to the firm or the regulator;
- giving you options on how to proceed with your issues;
- or even representing you at a hearing.
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Arbitration is a legal proceeding in which a qualified person — selected with input from you and your IIROC-registered investment firm — issues a final, legally binding decision with respect to your complaint.
It's up to you to decide whether to take your complaint to arbitration. If you do, IIROC rules require registered firms to participate and comply with the arbitration program procedures.
What you need to know about arbitration
- Arbitration is private, confidential and less formal than a court. There may be legal time limits that apply ("statute of limitations"), beyond which you could lose the right to pursue some or all of your claims. You may wish to consult a lawyer to determine if you are within these limits.
- The Arbitrator can award up to $500,000 in compensation to the investor, plus interest and legal costs. When you file your case, you can decide whether the arbitrator should have the power to award legal costs to the successful party.
- The investor is not required to hire a lawyer, but arbitration is a legal proceeding and the investment firms are always represented by a lawyer.
- Administrative fees and the arbitrator's fees are usually divided equally between you and your IIROC-regulated firm.
Starting the arbitration process
IIROC has designated two independent arbitration organizations for resolution of disputes between IIROC-regulated investment firms and clients. Contact them for more information including rules of procedure:
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Litigation — Taking your complaint to court
If you have a dispute with your IIROC-regulated investment firm and you think you have grounds for seeking compensation, you have the option of going to court. However, this option involves legal costs that may not be recoverable and you could also find yourself responsible for the other party's legal costs in addition to your own.
What you need to know about litigation
- You are not required to try to resolve the dispute with the firm prior to taking legal action.
- You should be aware there is a statute of limitations on legal action which are time limits for taking legal action, beyond which you could lose the right to pursue some or all of your claims.
- While not always necessary, it is advisable to obtain legal advice before pursuing action in the courts. Depending on your situation, you may want to consult a lawyer for advice on your rights and options. Your provincial law society can help you find a lawyer. See
flsc.ca for a list of provincial law societies.
- There is no limit to the amount of compensation that can be claimed.
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