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The Small Investor Protection Association (SIPA) has a message for CSA and IIROC: redesign your websites.

In an open letter to regulators, dated October 2017, SIPA says CSA’s website takes numerous clicks to check advisor registration — hardly the 10 seconds of time CSA claims it takes.

The association offers a more severe critique of IIROC’s AdvisorReport. For example, to use that online service, investors must first agree to five pages of terms of use.

“The five-page document is full of confusing legalese,” says SIPA. “We have never encountered so many intimidating and unnecessary roadblocks from any other regulatory site quite like IIROC’s.”

SIPA’s advice to regulators: “Test your website with real investors, since they may see issues that you may have missed.”

Title confusion

If a patient investor manages to perform a registration check, further confusion can ensue about registration categories and what they mean.

For example, SIPA says it found a person described as a portfolio manager on IIROC’s site and as a dealing rep on CSA’s.

Read: Ontario ‘working closely’ with SROs on titles reform

That occurs when IIROC-registered portfolio managers aren’t provincially registered by one of Canada’s 13 securities commissions, so they appear in CSA’s national registration database as dealing reps. Advisor.ca reported on such title confusion for discretionary advisors earlier this year.

Knowing which advisors have a fiduciary duty is important to investors, suggests SIPA. Addressing CSA, SIPA says, “Giving the illusion [that], if your advice giver is listed, investors can somehow breathe a sigh of relief […] is a gross disservice.”

Read: Advisor or adviser? It’s not that simple

When looking for an advisor, SIPA says investors should be educated to ask if the advisor has an obligation to act solely in the investor’s best interests. IIROC’s investor bulletin entitled “What should you know about your investment advisor?” leaves out this important question, notes SIPA.

Read: Industry still waiting for best interest clarity

Read the full letter from SIPA.

Also read:

Pro bono legal clinic backs wronged investors

Forgery “widespread” in investment industry: SIPA

What IIROC found in its conflict of interest rule review

Originally published on Advisor.ca
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