Tuesday, March 20, 2018 (Toronto) – Today, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) released its landmark Seniors Strategy and Action Plan to respond to the needs and priorities of older Ontarians. CARP supports and commends the OSC’s leadership on issues relating to older investor protection.
CARP was pleased to have senior staff as members of the OSC’s Seniors Expert Advisory Committee, who were involved in the development of this Seniors Strategy and Action Plan. CARP commends the OSC for its initiative in proactively identifying issues of particular importance to seniors and embarking on a plan to address them.
“Because people are living longer, interest rates are at historic lows, and workplace pensions are disappearing, protecting the investments of older Canadians has never been more important” says Wanda Morris, VP of advocacy, CARP. “The OSC’s new Seniors Strategy and Action Plan is a critical first step in addressing the unique risks associated with older investors.”
The OSC’s Seniors Strategy and Action Plan identifies several trends that show that Ontarians will need to make more complex financial judgements later in life, and with higher stakes, than may have been the case for previous generations.
“As we age, we can become increasingly challenged at complex financial decision making; however, we don’t usually become less confident in our decisions. This reality puts the assets of older investors at risk of financial exploitation and loss” says Morris. “One key element of OSC’s strategy is to prevent exploitation of older investors with cognitive impairments or who are subject to elder abuse or undue influence.”
Among the OSC’s recommendations are two issues which have very strong support from CARP members:
- Addressing registered firms’ and their representatives’ use of confusing and misleading titles, designations, and marketing practices, including issues related to older investors, and
- Strengthening OBSI and exploring how the dispute resolution process can better respond to the issues of older investors.
In a 2017 survey, CARP members overwhelmingly supported the elimination of confusing and misleading titles:
- 91% of CARP members agreed or strongly agreed that “many different titles used by people who sell financial products to the public causes confusion, and creates the potential for the public to be misled”
- 89% of CARP members agreed or strongly agreed that regulating titles used by people selling investments to the public would help people make more informed investment decisions.
CARP is also on record as calling for reforms to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) by giving OBSI the power to make binding recommendations where investment dealers have been found to have wronged their clients.
CARP is also in strong support of the implementation of FAIR Canada and the Canadian Centre for Elder Law’s recommendations in their joint November 2017 report. This report, entitled, “Report on Vulnerable Investors: Elder Abuse, Financial Exploitation, Undue Influence and Diminished Mental Capacity” makes 6 key recommendations:
- Require investment firms to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name and contact information of a Trusted Contact Person for each client, who can be contacted in case of suspicion of abuse or diminished mental capacity, so long as they themselves are not suspected of financial abuse or exploitation of the client.
- Allow a Temporary Hold on Trades and Disbursements of funds or securities when there is a reasonable suspicion of financial abuse or where the client has lost the capacity to provide instructions.
- Provide a Legal Safe Harbour for investment firms and financial service providers who appropriately report suspicions of financial abuse or mental incapacity.
- Create a Conduct Protocol setting out the steps firms and financial services representatives should take to identify and protect vulnerable clients including mandatory reporting of suspected financial abuse of vulnerable investors to the appropriate securities regulator.
- Mandate Specific Education and Training in the areas of elder abuse, undue influence, mental capacity issues, enduring powers of attorney and ageism.
- Require that investment firms Become Familiar with Outside Resources and Responders and learn how and when to appropriately refer a case of suspected elder financial abuse, undue influence or diminished mental capacity to local responders.
“We welcome the OSC Seniors Strategy and Action Report as laying needed groundwork, and look forward to working with the OSC to move specific recommendations forward” says Morris.
CARP is Canada’s leading advocacy association for older Canadians to promote better health, financial security and freedom from ageism. CARP is supported by its 300,000 national membership and valued corporate partners who provide benefits and discounts to its members.