The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has published OSC Staff Notice 11-779 Seniors Strategy. This document outlines new initiatives to meet the needs of older investors, as well as better equip firms and representatives to deal with issues that may arise as their clients age.
"The OSC's vision is a stronger and more secure financial future for all Ontario seniors," said Tyler Fleming, Director of the Investor Office at the OSC in a March 20 announcement. "Our comprehensive approach includes targeted policy, operational, research and educational initiatives to ensure that older Ontarians' needs are appropriately met by the province's securities industry."
Safe harbour for firms and representatives
The OSC says that over the coming year, it will work to implement new initiatives, “including the development of a flexible and responsive framework to address issues of financial exploitation and cognitive impairment among older investors that includes a safe harbour for firms and their representatives.”
The OSC also plans to introduce guidance and educational initiatives for firms and their representatives who work with older investors. The initiatives will cover topics such as best practices for engaging and communicating with older investors. The OSC also plans to establish dedicated staff in its Inquiries and Contact Centre who will address concerns from older investors.
These initiatives and others outlined in the strategy follow extensive research, consultation with the OSC's Seniors Expert Advisory Committee, findings from a roundtable focused on seniors' issues, as well as engagement with international regulators, the investment industry, retail investors and community groups.
A critically important strategy
The OSC’s Seniors Strategy has drawn praise from industry associations. Paul C. Bourque, President and CEO, of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) stated that he fully supports the OSC’s efforts “to both protect the financial wellbeing of older investors and provide important guidance to the investment industry.”
Trusted contact person
In particular, IFIC says it “is pleased to see the OSC’s plans to develop a framework that includes the naming of a ‘trusted contact person’ and a ‘safe harbour’ provision. The introduction of these changes will better enable advisors to take steps to protect clients when they have concerns about signs of exploitation or diminished judgement.”
Bourque added, “IFIC looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the OSC as it executes these elements of this critically important strategy.”
Michelle Alexander, Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the Investment Industry Association of Canada, said that the IIAC applauds the OSC’s continued efforts to protect seniors from financial exploitation and fraud. “The OSC’s Seniors Strategy has the benefit of being both flexible and responsive to the changing needs of older individuals, allowing member firms to exercise judgement based on the particular situation, while keeping appropriate investor protection measures in place…”
To learn more, consult the Seniors Strategy document on the OSC’s website.