Macquarie Private Wealth is refusing to adhere to a decision from Canada's top banking ombudsman that it should compensate two sets of investors for losses incurred because they weren't suitably invested.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments has publicly named and shamed a financial firm for refusing to adhere to one of its rulings on whether dissatisfied clients should be compensated.
Founded in 1996, OBSI is Canada’s national independent dispute resolution service for consumers and small businesses for complaints they can't resolve with their banking services or investment firms.
'Macquarie has nothing to do with any of these issues' —Macquarie Private Wealth statement
Although OBSI's decisions aren't legally binding, the group says 99.8 per cent of the thousands of complaints brought forward since the organization’s inception have been resolved successfully. Indeed, prior to this month, OBSI has only once publicly outed a company for refusing to adhere to one of its recommendations.
The two cases OBSI cited Friday involved clients at firms who were put by their advisers into investments entirely unsuitable for their risk profile. In both cases, the adviser worked for a firm which was subsequently taken over by Macquarie.
One case was that of a married couple from Ottawa with three University-aged children, and the other was a retired woman from Halifax. Both sets of clients are unnamed, but OBSI's investigation concluded they are entitled to $74,791 and $157,274, respectively, in compensation.
OBSI says it came up with the figures by calculating what their investments would have been worth had they been properly advised, and the value they were actually worth when they pulled their money out. The watchdog then added interest to that.
Macquarie says the individuals were never Macquarie clients and as such do not deserve compensation from the firm.
Firm disputes claim
"Macquarie … is falsely identified in these statements as the firm at which these advisers were employed," Macquarie said in a statement. "In fact, the dealings between the advisers and their respective clients took place at Blackmont Capital and its predecessor firms between 2000 and 2009.
"This was before [Macquarie's] entry into the Canadian marketplace," the investment firm said. "Macquarie has nothing to do with any of these issues."
By the time Macquarie bought Blackmont, the advisers in question were no longer with Blackmont, and their clients no longer had any association with the firm, the company notes.
"Macquarie believes that this duty should fall on the corporate parent of Blackmont during the relevant events in these cases," the statement reads. "OBSI ought to seek relief from parties that were actually involved in these cases, rather than to seek damaging publicity against Macquarie."
"The fact is that the dealer is the same one that Mr. and Ms. S dealt with from 2000 and where all the problems leading to their losses occurred," OBSI said in a report. "The change of name is cosmetic and irrelevant to the issue of compensation.
"Throughout the relevant time period, the investment dealer remained the same and the responsibility to compensate the customers rests with the investment dealer," OBSI says.
"These obligations do not disappear with a name change."