Investment-related products accounted for more than half of the complaints to the Financial Dispute Resolution Centre last year, the centre said as it kicked off its open day today.
The taxpayer-funded centre has mediated a total of 47 cases since it was set up in June 2012, with about 80 per cent resolved successfully. It has received a total of 3,246 enquiries since it opened, with 2,192 received last year.
Centre chairwoman Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said many of the cases they encountered were about investment-related products, which involved 1,182 of last year’s complaints, compared to 474 in the last six months of 2012.
Some investors were unhappy about returns and inaccurate product descriptions by salesmen, she said. Many products were new on the market and that contributed to the larger amount of complaints compared to other cases.
Cheng said the centre provided a platform for both parties to communicate their issues in a calm manner.
The open day features a guided tour in the centre and seminars. It is part of the activities in the Mediation Week, which runs from last Thursday to tomorrow.
Since it was set up, industry players say the FDRC has made banks and brokers handle client complaints more seriously.The FDRC was set up in the wake of the Lehman Brothers minibond fiasco in late 2008 where more than 20,000 investors complained that they had been misled by banks and brokers into buying products linked to Lehman. They were left out of pocket overnight after the US investment bank collapsed in September 2008.
Previously, investors who felt they may have been cheated had little recourse if they could not afford a lawyer. That prompted the government to set up the dispute resolution centre to provide mediation and arbitration services for customers claiming up to HK$500,000 from banks or brokers.
The FDRC, which cost HK$15 million to set up and requires HK$55 million a year to run, is to be funded by the government, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for the first three years, and by financial institutions thereafter.