Nova Scotia Securities Commission chief Sarah Bradley selected as new banking ombudsman

TORONTO — Sarah Bradley, the CEO of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, has been chosen to head the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, a national organization that resolves disputes between consumers and their banks and investment firms.OBSI serves as an alternative to costly legal battles and can recommend that firms compensate clients up to $350,000 when it has determined that a customer complaint has merit.But the organization has faced push back in recent years, with a number of companies refusing to abide by the ombudsman’s recommendations.Until late 2012, a firm had only refused the ombudsman’s recommendations once in the over 17 years since OBSI’s predecessor, the Canadian Banking Ombudsman, was formed.Longtime OBSI head Doug Melville stepping down at end of MayIn OBSI’s ‘name and shame’ campaign, about 30% of compensation withheld from investorsSince then it has faced more than a dozen refusals, although the organization says more than 99 per cent of cases are still successfully resolved.In its most recent annual report released in February, OBSI said the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 magnified losses faced by investors and led to a deluge of complaints.That in turn made complaint resolution more difficult as it “hardened firms’ positions,” OBSI says in the 2014 annual report.Some banks even elected to leave the organization. Royal Bank of Canada pulled out of OBSI in 2008, while TD Bank ditched the organization in 2011. Both banks now use the ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office to handle disputes.Longtime ombudsman Douglas Melville stepped down at the end of May to take up a new role as principal ombudsman and chief executive for the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman.Bradley, who is also the chairwoman of the Nova Scotia Securities Commission, will take over her role as OBSI’s ombudsman and CEO on Sept. 14. In a statement, Bradley said she is excited to join the organization.“OBSI is widely recognized as Canada’s trusted, impartial and effective provider of financial sector dispute-resolution services, with a staff team that is the best in the business,” she said.The Canadian Press

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