How to Make a Complaint

Have a Question?

A CIRO Member is an investment firm regulated by CIRO who must follow CIRO’s rules, including rules for handling client complaints. Clients of a CIRO Member who are not satisfied with a financial product or service have a right to make a complaint and to seek resolution of the problem. CIRO Members have a responsibility to their clients to ensure that all complaints are dealt with fairly and promptly. Please visit the Complaints About CIRO page if your complaint is about services you received from CIRO.


Step 1: Determine if you are dealing with a CIRO Member

Make sure you are dealing with a CIRO Member, and/or an advisor who is registered with a CIRO Member, by using the Dealers We Regulate.

You can make a complaint to any and/or all of the following:

  • Your advisor
  • The supervisor/branch manager who oversees your advisor
  • The firm where your advisor works (i.e. CIRO Member)
  • Directly with CIRO
  • To the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) if you are not satisfied with a CIRO Member’s response to your complaint

Below are the steps you should follow to make a complaint, an outline of the CIRO complaints handling process and where you can find additional information.

What if you are not dealing with a CIRO Member?

Step 2: Gather your facts

Think about the problem and the result that you want. Write down the main points in the order that they occurred. Note the name of the firm, the accounts and products involved, who you dealt with, key dates and the circumstances surrounding the issue. Put together a file of any supporting documents. Include copies of application forms, statements, transaction confirmations, cancelled cheques and all relevant correspondence to and from the firm. Do not send the originals of any documents in case they get lost.

Step 3: File your complaint

Submit your complaint directly to the Member and/or CIRO. Once you have submitted your complaint, the processes outlined in Step 4: Complaint Handling begin.

If possible, it is best to make your complaint in writing. Include your complete address and a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached, though CIRO can accept anonymous complaints.

As an investor, you can make a complaint to CIRO at any time, whether or not you have complained to your firm, and CIRO will review your complaint to determine whether your advisor and/or firm has broken any rules. 

It is important to understand that CIRO Members cannot prevent you from initiating or continuing with a complaint to CIRO or other securities regulators through the use of a confidentiality or similar agreements.

CIRO may take disciplinary action including fines, suspensions or permanent bans, however CIRO cannot provide compensation to you or force a firm or advisor to reimburse you.

Investor Recourse and Compensation

The first step in seeking compensation or resolution of your complaint is to make a written complaint directly to your advisor and their firm. They must provide you with a substantive response to your claim within 90 calendar days. If you are not satisfied, you can consider the options outlined in the Investor Recourse and Compensation section.

Step 4: Complaint handling

When you complain to a CIRO Member directly

CIRO Members are responsible to you, the investor, for monitoring the actions of their advisors and employees to ensure that they comply with the by-laws, rules and policies governing their activities.

If you complain to a CIRO Member directly, the firm is required to abide by CIRO’s rules for handling client complaints. Firms must report all written client complaints to CIRO about possible breaches of CIRO rules so CIRO can determine whether to conduct its own investigation.

Complaints about alleged misconduct

If you have a complaint about alleged misconduct related to your account, such as a breach of confidentiality, the buying or selling of investments without your approval, or an investment recommendation that is too risky for you, the firm is required to:

  • Acknowledge your complaint within five business days
  • Provide you with their final response within 90 calendar days, including:
    • A summary of your complaint
    • Results of their investigation
    • An explanation of their final decision
    • Options available to you for seeking compensation if you are not satisfied with their response.

If the firm cannot provide a response within 90 calendar days, they must inform you, explain the reason for the delay and provide you with the new expected response date.

When you complain to CIRO directly

CIRO investigates complaints about its regulated firms and their advisors, and takes enforcement action where appropriate. While CIRO does not review customer service issues, CIRO rules require that firms respond to such complaints.

When you complain to CIRO directly, CIRO will let you know when it has received your complaint. For complaints about alleged misconduct by your advisor or your CIRO regulated firm, CIRO will update you after it has reviewed your complaint and decided whether it will proceed with an investigation. CIRO carefully reviews all the information it receives to see if rules have been broken and if it needs to take further action.

How to complain to CIRO directly

CIRO is the amalgamation of two previous organizations, the Investment Industry Regulatory of Canada (IIROC) which regulated investment dealer firms and their advisors and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) that regulated mutual fund dealer firms and their advisors.

While CIRO cannot require an advisor or firm to compensate you, if you’ve lost money and you think it’s because your investment advisor or firm acted improperly, there are options, from using an ombudsman to arbitration to court. See step 5 for further information.

You can complain directly to CIRO by:

  • Filling out our Secure Form online (preferable)
  • Completing the downloadable form (pdf) and mailing it to 40 Temperance Street, Suite 2600, Toronto, ON M5H 0B4
  • Fax at 1-888-497-6172

You can also contact CIRO by telephone at 1-877-442-4322 for any questions you may have on making a complaint.

Step 5: Not satisfied with the firm’s response to your complaint?

If you are not satisfied with a CIRO Member’s response to your complaint, you can consider the options outlined in the Investor Recourse and Compensation section including the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI), an independent body that investigates unresolved complaints. All CIRO dealer Members must be Members of OBSI. If you are not satisfied with a CIRO Member’s response or if you have not received the Member’s response within 90 days, you can file your complaint with OBSI. There is no cost to investors to use OBSI’s services. For further information on the other compensation options that may be available and to help determine which options work best for you visit the Investor Recourse and Compensation page on our website.