Step 1 – Write a letter to the broking head with documentary proofs
Normally, if there are no dues in your account and if you give a request to close the demat and trading account, the broker will execute the same within a week. If that is not happening, you must alert the broking head with acknowledged copies of your application of closure and copies of your ledger and demat account. These issues are normally sorted out at the level of the broking head itself.
Step 2 – Based on the reporting matrix, write to the CEO and Compliance Officer
This is a step which you need to take only if the broker does not close the trading and demat account despite giving them enough time and escalating to the broking head. If there is a genuine reason for the delay it is OK, otherwise you must write to the CEO and the compliance officer. Ideally, this letter should be hand delivered to the office and you can insist on a stamped acknowledgement as a future reference.
Compliance officers are required to report complaints and their resolutions to the exchange and SEBI on a regular basis and any complaint given to the compliance office has larger regulatory implication. In most situations, the case does not cross this stage unless there is some dispute in the account or if there are some past dues or some pending amount in the margin account. You must first ensure that these things are resolved and acknowledged before going to the next step.
Step 3 – If it is a demat issue, escalate the matter to NSDL / CDSL as the case may be
Account closure may be held up because you are not getting credit for shares you have bought or you are not getting back shares given to the broker pool account as margin. The next step, then, is to escalate the issue with the main depository in your case i.e. NSDL or CDSL. Remember, the depository can instruct the broker/DP to effect the transfer. You must ideally also enclose copies of your ledger and demat statement to show that you have not received the credit in your demat account despite all your dues being clear. This will add strength to your case.
Step 4 – If it is a trading account issue, take it up with the stock exchanges
If the issue pertains to your trading account where balances are not being transferred to your bank account, you must immediately escalate with the BSE and the NSE. The exchange normally takes its time, but keep marking copies of such mails or emails to the CEO of the broker and to the compliance officer also. This will keep the pressure on to act fast.
Step 5 – File an official complaint with the SEBI SCORE system
You must use this as a last resort if the broker is still not closing your account despite reminders from the depository and the exchange. There is an online SCORE system that is available on the SEBI website where complaints can be filed online with the regulator and you can also maintain an audit trail and track the complaint.
Step 6 – Put pressure via social media and discussion forums
Normally, if you find that the broker is being unresponsive despite repeated reminders and escalations, then you can use social media to put pressure. There are social media forums, Twitter handles and Facebook pages that can be used to put pressure in exceptional cases but these don’t have any legal status. Nor can you be assured of results.
The bottom-line is that if you ask for your trading or demat account to be closed and there are no dues from your side, the broker is obliged to execute the same. Normally, a little bit of escalation is good enough to get the job done.