Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments will provide objective, third party review for group RESP subscribers’ issues
TORONTO, ON – The members of the Registered Education Savings Plan Dealers Association of Canada (RESPDAC) – which represent the majority of group RESPs in the country – have confirmed that their planholders will have now access to an outside source for the resolution of unresolved disputes and misunderstandings about their plans.
RESPDAC has signed an agreement, effective November 1st, 2007 with the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI). Established by the Canadian banking system in 1996, OBSI is a national, independent dispute resolution service that investigates complaints of customers of banks and other deposit-taking organizations, investment dealers, mutual fund dealers and mutual fund companies, if and when initial attempts at resolution fail. The organization is funded by a levy on member firms, but is independently governed and run.
“This is a major step forward for the members of RESPDAC, further strengthening our commitment to our planholders and to the reputation of our industry,” said Peter Lewis, Chair of RESPDAC.
“Each of our member firms currently does its utmost to resolve concerns raised by planholders,” Mr. Lewis continued. “But up to now, a client had limited recourse if their dispute or complaint reached an impasse. OBSI provides an ideal solution for both sides.”
RESPDAC’s members include C.S.T. Consultants Inc., Children’s Education Funds Inc., Heritage Education Funds Inc., and USC Education Savings Plans Inc. These companies account for over 90% of the group plan business in Canada, and manage almost a third of more than $22 billion in total education savings plan assets. The association was formed in 2000, and has focused on setting guidelines for ethical conduct, improved professional standards, communications and advocacy for group education savings plans.
“The members of RESPDAC clearly comprise a substantial component of the financial services industry in Canada, and we’re very pleased to welcome them to our membership,” said David Agnew, Ombudsman and head of OBSI.
“All of our members strive to provide outstanding customer service, and fair resolution of issues in dispute,” Mr. Agnew explained. “The members of RESPDAC will be no exception, I’m sure. However, it’s inevitable that there will occasionally be disagreements, and that’s where we can be of great service to both parties, at no cost to the individual consumer.”
Each of the RESP Dealers association’s members will notify their planholders that they now have recourse to OBSI if and when any disputes are not resolved to their satisfaction by the company itself. RESPDAC will also provide this information on its website.
“We’re confident that our members will continue to work hard to resolve any issues with their planholders,” said Mr. Lewis. “But having OBSI as a credible and ready resource will assure everyone that all matters in dispute will be thoroughly and impartially reviewed.”