The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) released its Treating Financial Services Consumers Fairly Guideline on Sept. 28. The guideline applies to all four of FSCO’s regulated sectors: insurance, credit union/caisse populaire, loan and trust, and mortgage brokering.
FSCO's says its new guideline, which contains eight principles, aligns with international standards and with the new guidance on the fair treatment of customers released last week by the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators and the Canadian Insurance Services Regulatory Organizations.
"FSCO takes its consumer protection mandate seriously. Licensees can use this comprehensive Guideline to strengthen their policies and procedures, and ensure a corporate culture that prioritizes the interests of consumers," stated Anatol Monid, Executive Director, Licensing and Market Conduct Division, FSCO.
FSCO says that much of what it expects from Licensees in terms of the fair treatment of consumers is contained, directly or indirectly, in existing legislation or is part of accepted industry best practices.
“However, treating financial services consumers fairly is not just about the law. It is about an ethical way of conducting business, and ensuring a corporate culture that places the interests of the consumer at the centre of all business decisions,” says the regulator.
In its guideline FSCO set out the following expectations:
1. that a core component of a Licensee’s business governance and culture is fair treatment of consumers;
2. that licensees act with due skill, care and diligence at all times, but especially when dealing with consumers or designing financial services or products for consumers;
3. that licensees promote financial services and products in a manner that is clear, fair and not misleading or false;
4. that recommended products are suitable, taking into account the consumer’s disclosed personal circumstances and financial condition;
5. that licensees disclose and manage any potential or actual conflicts of interest;
6. that licensees provide continuing service and keep consumers appropriately informed, through to the point at which all obligations to the financial services consumer have been satisfied, including claims handling or the diligent provision of benefits;
7. that policies and procedures are in place to handle complaints in a timely and fair manner;
8. and that licensees protect the private information of financial services consumers and inform them of any privacy breach.
Learn more by consulting the new guideline on FSCO’s website.