Ontario’s provincial government says it will take action to restrict the use of financial planner and advisor titles, while also pursuing a plan to bolster confidence in the capital markets, promote industry innovation, and improve the investor experience.
In Thursday’s provincial budget, the government pledged to move ahead with legislation that will “protect” the use of financial planner and advisor titles. While the budget is short on specifics, it reiterates the long-standing concern that a lack of requirements for industry titles exposes investors to the risk of receiving unqualified advice, while also undermining industry professionalism.
To address these concerns, the government promised to introduce some form of proficiency requirement. “The proposed new framework is being developed for the financial services industry to require that individuals using the financial planner and financial advisor titles have an appropriate credential,” it said in today’s budget.
Without specifying what the new requirements will be, the government said the proposed framework “will take a measured approach to enhance consumer protection without introducing unnecessary regulatory burden, and will be mindful of the current regulatory oversight of licensees and registrants.”
The province also indicated the new regime will be developed with input from the industry, and with an eye to avoiding industry disruption, noting that it is “mindful of the need to ensure a smooth transition for existing experienced and well‐qualified professionals.”
The government also announced it will pursue a five-point plan for boosting confidence in the capital markets. “The focus of this plan will be to strengthen investment in Ontario, promote competition and facilitate innovation,” it said.
The plan features the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) ongoing effort to ease regulatory costs through its Burden Reduction Task Force, which is already engaged in consultations on this issue.
The government also said it will establish an Office of Economic Growth and Innovation within the OSC to, among other things, promote the adoption of technology to reduce costs, increase competition and accelerate industry innovation.
Additionally, it said the OSC will lead efforts to improve the investor experience and investor protection through greater use of “plain language” requirements, implementing its Seniors Strategy, improving financial literacy and eliminating outdated requirements.
The province also promised greater use of cost-benefit analysis in OSC rule making, and said it will work with the OSC to ensure that the province’s capital markets are globally competitive. To start, this will involve the OSC reporting Ontario’s competitiveness relative to other jurisdictions.
Other planned changes to securities legislation included “clarifying the payment of awards under the OSC whistleblower program,” and certain, unspecified technical amendments to securities law.
Finally, the government also indicated it’s committed to launching the new provincial regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), in June, and that it is also pursuing the cooperative capital markets regulator (CCMR). Yesterday, it was announced that Nova Scotia is officially joining that ongoing effort.