The Ontario Securities Commission has published its 2016-2017 statement of priorities, which says the regulator will push ahead with introducing a best interest standard (BIS) despite industry concerns.
The statement says, “Our proposed priority of pursuing targeted reforms and introducing a BIS to enhance the advisor-client relationship received the most attention. Comments of support […] were offset by a number of commenters who raised concerns, including reduced access to advice [for investors] and a lack of agreement on BIS within the CSA. Some [letters] recommended delaying a decision on BIS until the impact of CRM2 and other reforms became clearer and could be assessed.”
But the OSC says, “The pursuit of targeted amendments to NI 31-103 and a BIS […] are top priorities that we need to complete. [And], as noted last year, we will be following the Ontario Government’s review of financial planning and the impact that advisor titles and proficiency standards have on investor protection as part of this priority.”
The regulator will also continue to “address compensation arrangements in mutual funds.” Its statement says comments of support were offset by a number of remarks from those “who [do] not support this project and [who] cited concerns that had arisen in other jurisdictions where embedded compensation arrangements were no longer allowed. For example, commenters noted there were perceived negative effects on investor access to advice in the U.K.”
The OSC notes the use of embedded fees requires further analyzing, which is why it will “maintain an open dialogue with stakeholders as we proceed through the next stages of this work.”
The OSC received more than 20 comment letters on its draft statement of priorities, and says most responses supported its work. The letters also focused on the OSC’s Investor Office, its goal to to improve regulatory harmonization and its continued push for greater diversity on corporate boards.
This week, the OSC also published its report on its Statement of Priorities for fiscal 2015-2016, which details the OSC’s performance over the last year, based on its areas of focus over the last year.
One accomplishment, says the regulator, is the vast majority of decisions released on commission proceedings (93%) were issued within six months of hearings in 2015 and 2016.
And, progress was made on the review of the client-advisor relationship through the publication of the OSC’s and CSA’s consultation paper on amendments to National Instrument 31-103.