Regulation by product is a problem: CSA roundtable

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Advisor.ca live-tweeted the CSA’s Statutory Best Interest Standard roundtable. Participants were concerned about regulatory arbitrage and limiting advice access for lower-income folks. They also called for better rules and higher standards.

A selection of our tweets, in sequential order:

Seniors are at risk. They don’t understand the paperwork and disclosure. They’ll never know enough. They just sign the papers.

People at bank counters act like they’re qualified to give advice, and seniors are buying this. It’s a problem that needs addressing.

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Most of the people in this room have challenged an advisor’s recommendation. But average people don’t have the knowledge to do this.

Read: A case for looser regulation

The intermediaries are there to serve the public, because the public is paying the bill. So this needs to be reflected in the regulation. It needs to be in plain words in a statute and advisors and clients should both know what they’re getting.

The retail advice system should not be driving the regulations that control it.

Concerns voiced by CSA about possibility that certain standards will raise costs for advisors and limit access to advice. Also questioning whether less affluent investors will be forced to a discount brokerage option.

The assumption that clients are getting advice is faulty. So it’s not really a concern that access will be restricted.

Read: Congress members say fiduciary duty could curb access to advice

Giving advice for people with 200k is not brain surgery. They’re just giving a package created by the fundcos. That will be automated. Those automated options may in fact provide guidance more in the best interests of the client since computers don’t have to be paid.

Studies showing the value of advice may be overstated because the respondents are disproportionately wealthy. The results are skewed. It’s too early to say there will be an advice gap. The industry will adapt to provide for lower value clients. The market will evolve and the industry will figure out a way to give them what they need for what they’re willing to pay.

Read: Can’t empathize with clients? Get out of this business

Those playing the regulatory arbitrage card, by saying “we’ll just go sell seg funds” is very disingenuous. Everyone knows seg funds are securities products. It’s a political decision to structure them this way. Fix the political problem.

Older Canadians are in a place where they say a pox on all your houses and it creates a savings crisis, says CARP’s Susan Eng.

Regulation by product is a problem. You need to put down a standard and let them meet it.

Read: OBSI abandons jurisdiction over seg fund complaints

We should take our cues from regulators in other jurisdictions that have given this due consideration. Hong Kong implemented its version of fund facts for all financial products in 18 months. Canada’s taken a decade and we’re still not done.

The typical consumer does not understand the mechanisms for redress, and those mechanisms are hard to navigate. This needs to improve. If OBSI became that point of redress, the non-binding nature of their decisions would have to be addressed.

We also need to be looking at standards for when markets improve. Don’t look only at the current volatile, low-interest-rate situation.

Read: Don’t weaken advisor standards

There’s no value in putting more enforcement behind poor rules. We need better rules and higher standards first. CRM2 and point of sale do not go to the core of dealing with conflicts of interest.

We’re not moving from zero. We’re not all the way back at “buyer beware.” Be bold and tell advisors to work in clients’ best interests.

CSA wraps it up saying we need to look at titles, conflicts of interest and the true role of intermediaries.

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