JRC to look at expanding OBSI’s powers

The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) is planning to consider possible new enforcement powers amid a variety of strategic initiatives designed to enhance its value to the financial services sector, its clients and regulators.

OBSI published a new strategic plan on Thursday that will guide the organization’s evolution over the next five years. The dispute-resolution service plans to “explore and evaluate alternatives” to its existing “name and shame” enforcement power over the next couple of years and to implement a new approach to enforcing its compensation recommendations within the five-year timeline, according to the strategic plan.

A recent independent review of OBSI’s investment industry service recommends that the dispute-resolution service be given the power to make binding compensation recommendations. OBSI notes in its strategic plan that it will also launch an independent review of its services for the banking business.

The strategic plan also calls for the ombudservice to review its terms of reference; to bolster training on identifying potential systemic issues; and to improve data-gathering and analytics capabilities. In addition, OBSI plans to survey both financial services firms and clients and to possibly expand its services, based on the input from those surveys along with the lessons generated by the cases it handles.

OBSI is also aiming to increase its level of trust and awareness among the financial services sector and to bolster consumer awareness through several initiatives. The ombduservice is also looking to step up its internal policy work and to bolster its resiliency, including improving the efficiency and security of its technology.

“Our strategic plan details clearly our key priorities. By successfully executing the plan, we hope to strengthen our public service contribution, provide thought leadership and add value to the Canadian financial services sector,” says Sarah Bradley, OBSI’s ombudsman and CEO, in a statement.

“The plan is reflective of OBSI’s vision, mission and values and is a response to the opportunities and challenges that are shaping our role within the sector,” she adds.

“Our plan starts with our vision, which is: Inspiring confidence in the Canadian financial services sector. We expect to do that not only by resolving disputes effectively, but by helping to reduce them as well,” Bradley says. “We have a greater role to play by sharing information about our experience, the trends we see, and emerging issues with firms, consumers and regulators.”

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