The Ombudsman's Office
Tips from the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman's Report 2012 (in French only)
How to contact the Ombudsman?
Do you want to reach an out-of-court settlement
in a dispute with your broker or another financial intermediary?
The AMF Ombudsman and the mediation team are available to organise a mediation procedure. This webpage will explain how you can take advantage of the Ombudsman's services and give you some helpful advice for making investment decisions and keeping track of your investments.
The Ombudsman's Office
• Its remit is to arrange out-of-court settlement
In the event of a dispute, the Ombudsman's
Office can help the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid legal action. It does not act as lawyer for either party or as judge. A charter governs this procedure, which is free of charge, confidential and elective (requiring
the consent of both parties).
Caution: Before seeking assistance from the Ombudsman's Office, you must contact your financial intermediary or the company in which you are a shareholder.
The Ombudsman's Office does not have jurisdiction in the field of taxation, life insurance or banking (interest charges, loans, overdrafts, etc.) Il does not advise on individual investment opportunities.
It cannot intervene if an AMF audit or enquiry is underway or if legal proceedings have already been initiated.
• In what situations can the Ombudsman act?
The Ombudsman intervenes in disputes relating to investor information, order execution (lead-time, order content), portfolio management and custody.
• The mediation procedure
The AMF mediation procedure is free of charge. Each party presents their position in the dispute and produces legible copies of supporting documents in their possession (e.g. account agreements, discretionary mandates, subscription forms, trade confirmations, account statements, management reports, letters, emails, screen shots, etc.). Both parties are heard and a written record is kept of the procedure. The Ombudsman can ask the parties to meet. He will seek to find a solution acceptable to both parties, and the parties will then indicate whether they agree to it. If they do, the Ombudsman will see that it is put into effect. The parties can modify the solution or decide at any time to terminate the procedure.
Tips from the Ombudsman
Check that the financial intermediary with whom you place your orders or who manages your portfolio has been approved by:
- the AMF, if it is an asset management company, or
- the ACP, if it is a bank authorised to provide investment services or an investment services provider (e.g. a stock broker), etc.
• Check that the product you are being offered (collective investment schemes, etc.) has been approved or authorised for marketing (via a product passport) (http://www.amf-france.org > Collective investment schemes).
• make sure that any public offering of securities (initial public offering, merger, etc.) has been authorised by the AMF. This can be done by checking the information on publicly traded companies at http://www.amf-france.org > Decisions and disclosures.
• It is important to read carefully:
- all the contracts before signing them (securities account agreement, derivatives term sheets, power of attorney for portfolio management) and in particular the section concerning fees and charges;
the documentation that your intermediary is required to give you before you place orders or invest in a collective investment scheme: documents on futures and options contracts, prospectuses for collective investment schemes, etc.
• Ask for an explanation of anything you do not understand. You are not supposed to be a financial expert.
• Ask for a cooling-off period to re-read the documentation and think over your decision if you have not already made up your mind. Your signature is binding.
• Ask for a precise description of the investment objectives pursued by the portfolio manager.
• Pay attention to the recommended investment period and/or redemption deadlines indicated in the prospectus.
• Ask for written confirmation about the level of risks you have agreed to accept and those that you have refused.
• Diversify your investments.
• More investment tips in the event of direct marketing
The Ombudsman's office has observed that some people who are contacted directly by telephone, mail or email go ahead and invest without checking the identity or professional credentials of the person they are dealing with.
Many trustworthy companies engage in direct marketing, but these techniques can be used to commit fraud. The Ombudsman's office has received many complaints which, after checking, have led it to publish warnings on the AMF website and in the press.
• Ask yourself - and your intermediary - some simple questions to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.
• Do not hesitate to talk to knowledgeable people around you.
• Always check that the person you are dealing with has the necessary authorisations.
• Do not sign anything before having read the document that is supposed to bear the AMF's authorisation number (subscription of shares, bonds, warrant, etc.) or the approval date (subscription of collective investment schemes.
• To make sure that the person you are dealing with is a reliable professional, you can ask the following questions:
• After investing
- Where did you get my name?
- What are the risks involved in the investment you are proposing?
- Can you send me some literature so that I can think things over?
- Could you explain your investment proposal to someone else I know like my business partner, accountant, financial advisor or banker?
- How long has your company been in this business?
- When and where can I meet you or another representative of your company?
- What type of investment will my money be used for?
- How much are the commissions, management fees and custody fees?
- If I need cash and want to get my money back, what will I have to do and how long will this take?
• Keep track of the companies you invest in. Except in special cases such as corporate actions, your financial intermediary is not obliged to pass on information released by companies, investment analysts, financial journalists or regulatory authorities
• Get information from diverse sources:
• Check any news you come across in online discussion forum
Regurlarly read your trade slips, account statements and fund managers' reports to find out how your investment is doing
• Notify your investment services provider quickly in the event of a dispute
• Set out your position formally in writing if the dispute continues
• Keep documents that can substantiate your claims (copies of screen shots, emails, correspondence, etc.)
In application of Article L.621-19 of the Monetary and Financial Code, the Autorité des Marchés Financiers is authorised to receive claims relating to matters that fall within its jurisdiction from any interested party, and to deal with them appropriately. When relevant, it proposes an out-of-court settlement of the disputes brought to its attention, via conciliation or mediation.
The submission of a dispute to the Autorité des Marchés Financiers to find an out-of-court settlement, implies the suspension of the statute of limitations for civil and administrative proceedings. It starts to run again when the Autorité des Marchés Financiers declares the mediation as ended.
The Autorité des Marchés Financiers cooperates with foreign stockmarket regulators in the resolution of cross-border disputes.
• Contacting the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman may be contacted by any person or legal entity, involved in a dispute of an individual nature falling within the Autorité des Marchés Financiers jurisdiction, only if no legal action or AMF investigation, regarding the same facts, is in progress.
The mediation procedure is free of charge.
• Prior action
A claim may only be brought to the attention of the Ombudsman when a prior action has been taken against the investment services provider or issuer, and your complaint has remained unanswered or has been rejected either totally or partially.
• The mediation process
The necessary means to carry out mediation in a neutral, impartial and independent manner are registered in the budget of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers.
The Ombudsman may only undertake the mediation procedure with the consent of both parties.
In principle, mediation lasts three months from the time when all useful evidence has been supplied to the Ombudsman by the parties.
The mediation procedure is a contradictory procedure. It is carried out in writing, but the Ombudsman may decide to hear the parties separately or together.
The Ombudsman and the parties are bound by the strictest obligations of confidentiality.
• Legal action
Both parties retain the right to bring the dispute in front of the courts at any time. The submission of the dispute to the courts brings the intervention of the Ombudsman to an end.
On this assumption, any exchange that has taken place during the mediation procedure may not be used or submitted to the courts.
• End of the mediation procedure
The mediation procedure ends either by an out-of-court settlement, or by the statement of a persistent disagreement, the withdrawal of one of the parties, or by the start of legal action relating to the dispute.
Whatever the outcome of the procedure, the Ombudsman informs the parties, in writing, of the end of his intervention.
• Annual report
The Ombudsman presents an annual report to the Board of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers, in which his activities are reviewed. This report is published.
Is the AMF Ombudsman already involved in class actions?
Bulletin Joly Bourse - January 2013.
How to contact the Ombudsman?
• Write to:
Mme Marielle Cohen-Branche
The AMF Ombudsman
Autorité des Marchés Financiers
17 Place de la Bourse
75082 Paris cedex 02, France
• By email:
Click here to access complaint form
Update: 16 May 2013