MFDA advisors might soon find themselves subject to higher proficiency standards.

The MFDA* is expected to issue a proposal early next year to formalize professional standards for its registrants.

“We are expecting a discussion paper early in the Spring and we’ll get on to it,” Joanne De Laurentiis, president and chief executive of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, told yesterday’s Advocis regulatory symposium.

Read: Get CE credits with Jim Otar’s new course

De Laurentiis says most companies currently provide CE credits for mutual fund brokers, but there’s no standard proficiency program. Meanwhile, IIROC registrants must complete 12 hours of compliance credits and 30 hours of professional development credits every three years. Insurance brokers must also complete credits.

“Enhancing professional requirements is a good thing,” says De Laurentiis. Aside from a new framework for CE credits, she says the upcoming professional requirements for MFDA brokers could also include ethical standards.

Read: IIROC to review registration, CE requirements

MFDA attendees told they welcome the idea. Those dually registered as insurance brokers are unperturbed, since they already have to complete CE courses.

Setting professional standards has been a key topic for investment advisors, with Advocis lobbying for people calling themselves financial advisors to be part of a recognized professional organization as a standard requirement.

Greg Pollock, president and CEO of Advocis, called yesterday for at least one year of post-secondary education as an entrance requirement to the profession. “That’s not a high bar but let’s start somewhere,” says Pollock.

Cross-border mutual fund selling?

Aside from raising professional standards, industry participants also discussed the potential of adopting Europe’s passport system for selling mutual funds.

Peter Intraligi, president of Invesco Canada, says the system would allow mutual fund companies to sell U.S. mutual funds without having to re-manufacture them for Canadian clients, thereby lowering costs for consumers.

Read: Should advisors here follow U.K. and Australia?

De Laurentiis says the passport would require regulators on the both sides of the border to agree. “The big issue will be whether the Americans will go for that,” she says, noting that the SEC is “very insular”.

Intraligi says the OSC expressed openness to the passport system when he first floated the idea at an industry symposium last month. “It’s a long shot,” he admits in a separate interview with, “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing our best for the end consumer.”

*The original version of this article stated that the Ontario Securities Commission was expected to issue the proposal. Return to the corrected sentence.