TORONTO, ON–The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published a relief order that provides registrants with an additional six months to comply with the conflicts of interest provisions in the Client Focused Reforms. Registrants will now have until June 30, 2021 to implement these changes.
The CSA also published a second relief order to provide for the relationship disclosure provisions of the Client Focused Reforms to take effect on December 31, 2021, at the same time as all other remaining changes.
The reforms are based on the fundamental concept that clients’ interests come first in their dealings with firms and individuals that are registered to give investment advice and trade in securities. They also require that registrants address material conflicts of interest in the best interest of their clients.
“We recognize that as a result of the pandemic registered firms are facing enormous and unprecedented operational pressures that impair their capacity to pursue the scheduled implementation of the Client Focused Reforms,” says Louis Morisset, CSA Chair and President and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers. “While reiterating the importance of these reforms, we are providing this relief to ensure registrants have the capacity to remain focused on front-line activities and use all their efforts to diligently respond to the current needs of their clients.”
The CSA published the Client Focused Reforms on October 3, 2019. At the time, the CSA provided for a phased transition period, with the reforms relating to conflicts of interest and the relationship disclosure provisions taking effect on December 31, 2020, and the remaining changes taking effect on December 31, 2021.
Due to the pandemic, many registrants will not be able to implement the conflicts of interest reforms since they are redeploying their staff to ensure key business functions continue to operate.
Since announcing the reforms last year, the CSA has been working with industry stakeholders through its Client Focused Reforms Implementation Committee. Through these discussions, it has become apparent that the implementation of the relationship disclosure provisions should occur at the same time as the “know your product” and enhanced suitability provisions of the reforms on December 31, 2021, to avoid the need to make adjustments on more than one implementation date.
In granting these relief orders, the CSA has been mindful of balancing investor protection goals of the reforms and the implementation challenges faced by firms in the current situation.
The CSA encourages registrants to consider the reforms when interacting with their clients now, since clients are relying on registrants more than ever to provide them with advice that puts their interests first during these challenging circumstances.
Registrants can view the relief orders on CSA members’ websites and are encouraged to contact their principal regulator with any questions.
The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada will harmonize their implementation timelines for conforming changes to their member rules, policies and guidance.
The CSA, the council of the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces and territories, co-ordinates and harmonizes regulation for the Canadian capital markets.