BME Ombudswoman Office, which this year presents a unique report for the four Spanish stock exchanges to provide a joint view of investor concerns, received more than 2,200 queries last year. Around 1,600 were calls and more than 600 were e-mails. A number of queries were also received by post. Retail investors accounted for 97% of the requests for information, compared to 2% from market members and financial institutions and 1% from issuers.
40% of the enquiries received by the Office related to stock market information, up significantly from 27% the previous year. Requests for information on inside information or other relevant information fell ten percentage points to 14%, while the category of other objects of enquiry remained the largest, accounting for 46% (compared to 49% in 2021).
The latter category includes, inter alia, queries on the cost of commissions generated by delisted securities, voluntary deregistration of shares in the book-entry register, securities traded on other markets and multilateral trading facilities such as BME Growth, or the renunciation of shares to avoid the costs associated with holding delisted, suspended and inactive securities.
In terms of both the number and content of enquiries about stock market information, the Ombudswoman Office notes that investors are becoming more knowledgeable about financial markets, although different investors profiles coexist in this matter. In 2022, the number of enquiries to confirm that the members through which they carry out their stock market operations are authorized to provide investment services continued to be significant.
The largest number of requests relates to requests for information on historical share prices of securities admitted to trading on the Spanish stock exchange. These queries increase during the income tax return period. The Office provides, free of charge, the closing price changes recorded by shares in the session on the date requested, without this implying that the investor has carried out any transaction.
83% of the complaints were finally processed as consultations. These are classified as contentious enquiries, in which a discrepancy is resolved with the appropriate clarification by the Office or by providing the relevant information, without the filing of a complaint.
The Office also provides guidance on consultations outside its remit, such as taxation of transactions, market manipulation, approval of takeover bids. In addition, in 2022 the Office continued to collaborate with Instituto BME in the course organized with the General Council of the Judiciary to inform judges and magistrates of the existence of this figure. It also participated in Financial Education Day along with the BME Research Department and in the 2022 Bell Ringing for Gender Equality, which was led by Gloria Martínez-Picazo, Ombudswoman at the Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia stock exchanges.
Another relevant aspect of the work of the Ombudswoman Office is its commitment to financial inclusion. For this reason, it´s particularly sensitive to accessibility for the elderly, who are offered the possibility of contacting it by ordinary mail, or, after granting power of attorney in favor of a third party, in order to facilitate the resolution of their queries.
"The Ombudswoman Office continues to be the most appropriate channel for providing immediate and clear answers to the queries of individual investors, who consider it an efficient and safe way to obtain information on the stock market, its operation and trading rules, as well as to resolve any doubts about the execution of stock market transactions", emphasizes Gloria Martínez-Picazo, who also highlights the more complete and flexible access to the Office that has led to the renovation of BME's website in 2022.
You can access the Investor Protection Office's annual report here.