FAIR Focus

January 2024

Happy New Year! FAIR Canada wishes you a happy and healthy 2024! In our first newsletter of the new year, we reflect on the key policy issues and accomplishments affecting investors from 2023. We also look at our priorities for advancing investor rights and protections in Canada this coming year. 



2023 Year in Review – Key Developments and Accomplishments

OBSI Selected as the Sole Ombuds Service for Banking Complaints

One of the most significant wins for investors in 2023 was the decision by the Federal Minister of Finance to appoint the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) as the sole external complaints body for all Canadian banking complaints.

 OBSI process…

Beginning November 2024, all banking customers will be able to take advantage of OBSI’s free services to resolve complaints that cannot be settled directly with their bank.


This is a big win for financial consumers! We thank all of our coalition partners who collaborated with us to draw attention to this issue and helped us make a difference.

FAIR Canada has consistently called attention to the fact that without binding OBSI recommendations, investors are re-victimized when dealing firms

choose to walk away from the OBSI process…

We were also delighted to see the members of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), and our first provincial government in Canada, support a proposal to ensure that OBSI recommendations are binding on investment dealers. FAIR Canada has consistently called attention to the fact that without binding OBSI recommendations, investors are re-victimized when dealing firms choose to walk away from the OBSI process or engage in low-ball settlements with their clients.

 

Before the close of the year, we welcomed Saskatchewan’s Bill 150 that will provide the framework to make OBSI’s decisions binding for investors residing in Saskatchewan. We look forward to working with our coalition partners, governments, and regulators to make binding OBSI recommendations available to as many Canadians as possible. 

Enhance Title Protection Frameworks

FAIR Canada continued to champion the need to improve the current approach to protecting the use of the financial planner and financial advisor titles in Ontario and elsewhere. To aid decision-makers, we published a comprehensive survey highlighting how everyday investors respond to different titles and what they assume the titles mean. We also met and are continuing to work directly with regulators and governments to create a more level playing field for individuals using the same title.

It is important that we ensure consumers receive the same level of protection, regardless of how or where their financial advisor obtained their title.

 

We are pleased to see that governments and regulators are now actively considering how to enhance existing title protection frameworks, and ensure they deliver meaningful consumer protections. 

More Unfair Fees Were Banned

We witnessed another ban on Deferred Sales Charges (DSCs) in 2023—this time for segregated funds, a full year after the CSA banned DSCs for investment funds. The bans are a significant step toward eradicating unfair fees that distort the advising process and are harmful to investors.


FAIR Canada also urged regulators to go further in 2024, and consider banning advisor chargeback commission structures that create a clear conflict between the advisor’s interests and those of the client.

Building a Stronger FAIR Canada for the Future

Our Board of Directors approved a new Strategic Plan that will guide the organization for the next five years. FAIR Canada’s Strategic Plan aims to build on our successes and solidify the organization as a thought leader, when it comes to retail investor issues and research.

 

During the year, we prepared submissions on 16 different, but crucial, policy and regulatory matters that have an impact on investors. We also published two comprehensive investor research surveys, one focusing on the types of investors and the other exploring investors’ understanding of various job titles within the financial advice sector.

 

To gain deeper insights into investor perspectives, we also organized a series of eight focus groups to improve our understanding of investors’ experiences within different investing and advisory channels. We look forward to releasing the valuable insights we gained from speaking directly with retail investors early in 2024.

Finally, we expanded our team, welcoming three new talented individuals as Head of Policy, Policy Counsel, and Manager of Public Relations to help strengthen our advocacy efforts and impact.

 

Demystifying the Regulatory System

 

During the year, FAIR Canada championed the investor perspective at numerous conferences and engagements with key decision-makers, industry representatives, and consumer advisory groups. A key message was the need to simplify the existing regulatory system, which is too complex and fragmented for most investors to understand or navigate with any confidence.

 

FAIR Canada also sought to raise awareness of critical investor rights issues through press releases, social media posts and numerous media interviews. In addition to our executive director Jean-Paul Bureaud’s public engagements, he wrote an article on embedded fees for the Canadian MoneySaver magazine. The article aims to demystify certain types of fees that investors pay but may not notice.


Looking Ahead to 2024

As we look ahead to 2024, FAIR Canada remains resolute in its commitment to advocate for fair, transparent, and investor-centric financial standards, practices, and laws. In the upcoming year, our goals and initiatives include:

 

  • Convince governments across Canada of the need to introduce legislation that would make OBSI’s recommendations binding for investment-related complaints.

 

  • Secure consumer-focused improvements to the existing title protection framework in Ontario and those adopted in other provinces.

 

  • Expand our investor-centric research work and begin to develop a body of research that helps to inform and support public policy choices.

 

  • Publish a new survey report focused on do-it-yourself investing, and release our qualitative findings from our first series of focus group-based research.

 

  • Advocate for better practices to return disgorged funds to harmed investors.

 

  • Improve the level of compliance with the client-focused reforms and advocate for more stringent measures for firms that fall short.

 

  • Continue to expand our use of social media to reach a broader audience, help educate investors about their rights, and demystify the investing process.

 

We achieved many important milestones in 2023. As we embark on 2024, FAIR Canada is committed to working harder to deliver on its mission—to champion fairness, transparency, and investor protection within the financial landscape.


We are grateful for your continued support and partnership in our ongoing efforts to promote the rights of individual investors in Canada through advocacy, education, and regulatory advancements.


We’d Love to Hear From You!

Do you have feedback on our newsletter or suggestions for topics you’d like us to write about? Your input is valuable and will help us improve our newsletter content for loyal subscribers like you. Please email us at info@faircanada.ca with your comments and/or suggestions.

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To learn more about our advocacy for investors, visit FAIRCanada.ca

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