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Have A Dispute With Your Financial Adviser? Here Are 5 Avenues You Can Use To Seek Recourse

Consumers need to know their options if their financial adviser has misrepresented products or not fulfilled their professional obligations.

You might have been sold something wrongly by an adviser. It sounded right at first and the numbers were alluring. To your horror, you discovered it too late. By then, the 14-day free look period is over. You can’t cancel your plan anymore. You don’t want to/can’t meet the adviser again, and just want to get your policy problems settled. Where do you go to?  Fortunately, there are several places where you can look for resolution of your financial disputes. In this article, fundMyLife shows you the places you can go to if you have financial disputes.

# 1 Approach Your Financial Institution

The first place to go to, before going anywhere else, is going to the financial institution that the adviser belongs to. For example, you’d reach out to insurance companies or banks depending on who and where you bought your policy from. You should speak to the staff that you brought the policy from first, but given how scary and confrontational it may be, you can opt to speak to the company’s customer service hotline instead.

The financial institution will dispatch a staff member to record your statements and investigate the incident thoroughly. Make sure you disclose as much information and as accurately as you can. At this point, if all went well with the investigation, you will get your money back.

# 2 Get Assistance From The Financial Disputes Resolution Center (FIDReC)

If you did not arrive at a satisfying conclusion via the first channel above, it’s time to step it up by going to FIDReC. As its name suggests, it is the place to go to when you have financial disputes. There, FIDReC mediates between you and the financial institution to come to an amicable conclusion. You can only come to FIDReC only after you have gone to financial institutions.

Between July 1 2016 and June 30 2017, FIDReC handled 396 complaints against banks and finances companies and 289 complaints against life insurers. That’s almost two complaints per day in a year.

Below is a flowchart from the FIDReC website.

Source: FIDReC

Upon lodging a complaint at FIDReC, a case manager checks if your complaint falls under FIDReC’s jurisdiction. If it does, FIDReC arranges for mediation. If successful, the dispute is settled. However, if the dispute is not settled, you can refer the dispute to an adjudicator for adjudication. The panel of adjudicators contains retired judges, senior counsel, lawyers, and retired industry professionals. This panel has the power to order financial institutions to follow their judgement. If the adjudication is in your favor, the maximum sum you receive from an insurance company is $100,000. On the other other hand, the maximum you receive from disputes with banks and capital markets is $50,000.

Financial institutions have to follow their judgement since the judgement is binding, but not for you. If you are still not happy with the judgement, you can still go on to different bodies to resolve your financial disputes.

# 3 Consumer Dispute Resolution Centres

Besides FIDReC, there are several other places you can go to settle your financial disputes. Firstly, you can go to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE). CASE is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that offers mediation through its mediators. However, the meditation process requires both parties to agree to it…which means it’s tough luck if the financial institution refuses to come.

You can also go to Singapore Mediation Center (SMC). As its name suggests, the center has mediators to resolve disputes between parties. Similarly, the financial institution has to agree to the meeting as well as SMC has no legal power to enforce attendance.

Finally, you can also go to the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT). SCT is a part of the State Courts of Singapore. According to the State Courts website, the Tribunals handle claims not more than $10,000. This limit can be raised to $20,000 if both parties agree to it. In addition, the claims must be filed 1 year from the incident. The Registrar from SCT will first assess whether the claims fall under the Tribunals’ jurisdiction and give both parties a chance to resolve the matter before going into the Hearing process. During Hearing, both sides will present their cases to the Referee, who will then make a decision based on the evidence and according to the law.

# 4 Social Media

After trying all the above steps, there is still no satisfying conclusion. The frustration is mounting, but there’s still a way. There’s the option to turn to social media, where you share your plight with members of the public.

It is surprising how viral posts about bad experiences with finance can get. It may be airing dirty laundry in the public, but you just have to do it if it resolves things. Companies don’t want bad reputation after all, no matter how big or small they are. They may finally contact you to solve the matter quietly and privately, and in exchange you remove all incriminating posts.

# 5 Legal Action

If all else fails, it’s time to bring out the big guns. However, it’s not recommended that you take it to court. Legal action takes a long time and it is very expensive. Against financial institutions with significantly larger coffers, it is an uphill battle to settle your financial disputes. Hopefully, you never have to come to this point.

Get Your Financial Answers From fundMyLife

For those who have financial disputes, we hope this article can clarify some doubts and provide guidance.