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Monday, April 15th, 2024

Top Ten New Year’s resolutions for financial consumers: OBSI

Canada’s Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) released its Top Ten Resolutions for 2011, highlighting the ways in which Canadians can help avoid future problems with their financial affairs.
While this list relates to financial institutions, CMP thinks the general tips can be applied to mortgage holders as well and offers good discussion points for brokers and their clients as the relationship continues to grow.
According to Ombudsman Doug Melville, some of the ideas contained in the list may appear obvious, but are often overlooked as Canadians go about their busy lives.
“Time and time again, we see the same sorts of financial complaints coming in the door,” said Melville. “Many of these issues would be mitigated or even avoided altogether if everybody adopts these simple resolutions.”
  1. Read everything you sign: Few people bother to read in full every document they sign. They should. Understand what you are signing to avoid nasty surprises down the road.
  2. Ask questions: Knowledge is power. If something isn’t clear to you, ask for more information or clarification. If you still don’t understand, bring along someone you trust so you both hear the explanation.
  3. Keep records: The individual or institution you are dealing with will have a record of their interactions with you. So should you. Take notes of important conversations, confirm instructions in writing, and keep copies of everything.
  4. Save your money: Set aside a portion of your income each month for your retirement and unforeseen events. Life is full of surprises; have a contingency fund in place for the unpleasant ones.
  5. Review your account statements: Carefully review all account documents sent to you each month, whether by mail or electronically. Report any errors or suspicious activity immediately; if you wait too long, you might be held responsible.
  6. Safeguard personal information: Keep your financial documents in a safe and secure place. Shred all personal financial information that you no longer need so the bad guys can’t use it.
  7. Plan ahead: Have a financial plan so in the future you can live the life you want. Don’t be caught unprepared in later years.
  8. Make a will: They say that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. No matter how old you are, make sure that you have a valid and updated will. If you don’t, you lose control over where your wealth goes. Don’t let lawyers or the government make the decision for you.
  9. Create a Power of Attorney: Regardless of your age, have a valid power of attorney in place in case you become unable to manage your own affairs. By doing so you can prevent heartache for your loved ones should something happen to you.
  10. Speak up: Most banking services and investment firms want to do the right thing for their customers. If you have a concern or complaint, don’t be afraid to let your financial services firm know. If they can’t make things right for you, know that there are other places where you can go for assistance, like the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.

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