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Canada's securities regulators to create new watchdog body combining IIROC, MFDA

The umbrella organization for Canada’s securities regulators says it plans to merge the regulatory bodies that oversee investment dealers and mutual fund dealers into one new organization, a move praised by both watchdog groups and industry players.

The umbrella organization for Canada’s securities regulators says it plans to merge the regulatory bodies that oversee investment dealers and mutual fund dealers into one new organization, a move praised by both watchdog groups and industry players. 

The Canadian Securities Administrators, which represents provincial and territorial securities commissions, said Tuesday the new self-regulatory organization would combine the functions of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) with the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA).

The roles of both regulatory bodies have increasingly overlapped in recent years, prompting calls to review the regulatory framework. 

IIROC president and CEO Andrew J. Kriegler said the new organization is important for the financial future of Canadians.

The new pan-Canadian organization will "better protect investors, increase access to advice, and support innovation," he said in a statement. 

MFDA president and CEO Mark Gordon said the new organization's clear public interest focus will strengthen public confidence while maintaining the advantages of the self-regulatory model.

"The CSA's decision will benefit all stakeholders by enhancing investor protection and creating significant efficiencies for industry participants," he said in a statement. 

Last August, IIROC said a study conducted by Deloitte LLP showed that a consolidation of the two regulators could result in savings of up to nearly $500 million for the financial services industry over a decade. 

The CSA said the new organization will harmonize IIROC and MFDA rules where appropriate and streamline complaint processes.

The umbrella group for Canada’s securities regulators also said it will combine two existing investor protection funds – the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the MFDA Investor Protection Corporation – into an integrated fund independent of the new organization.

The new self-regulatory framework is the result of extensive research, consultation and analysis, said Louis Morisset, CSA chair and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers.

The organization is "designed to protect Canadian investors and enhance public confidence, accommodate innovation, ensure fair and efficient market operations and navigate continually evolving industry conditions," he said in a statement.

The next step is to create an integrated working committee to determine the appropriate corporate structure of the new self-regulatory organization, the CSA said. 

The new organization will include "governance enhancements" such as ensuring that the majority of board members and its chair are independent to reinforce its public interest commitment, it said. 

It will also be required to create an investor advisory panel and solicit CSA comment and input on its annual priorities, business plan and budget, the CSA said.  

“The CSA recognizes the high level of skill, dedication and experience that staff from IIROC, MFDA and the existing investor protection funds have consistently brought to their work,” Morisset said. 

“The combined forces of these teams will be critical during the creation of the new self-regulatory organization and investor protection fund, and will be crucial to their future success.”

Canada’s investment funds industry widely applauded the plan to create a new national regulator, a decision that came after nearly two years of gathering feedback and consulting with industry players. 

Paul Bourque, president and CEO of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, said the single regulatory body will improve the investor experience, reduce investor confusion, and ultimately improve investor outcomes. 

“The industry stands ready to assist with the efforts to successfully integrate the two organizations in a timely manner," he said in a statement.

The Portfolio Management Association of Canada also welcomed the decision, in particular highlighting its support of the decision to defer potentially broadening the mandate of the new organization beyond the regulation of investment and mutual fund dealers.

“We strongly believe that the current regulation of portfolio managers by the (CSA) is effective, and it is in the public interest to maintain direct regulation of these registrants versus delegating to a self-regulatory organization,” Katie Walmsley, PMAC president, said in a statement. 

“It is clear that the CSA has listened and responded to stakeholder feedback and proposed meaningful ways to strengthen SRO governance and oversight before considering further changes.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2021. 

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press