From the Regulators

Consultation paper examines proficiency models used in other countries

By James Langton |

With the expiry of its contract with the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) as the exclusive provider of broker education on the horizon, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) is exploring what the future of advisor education should look like.

IIROC Thursday published a consultation paper that seeks feedback on whether it should continue with the existing proficiency model, based around an exclusive provider of courses and exams; or, if it should consider changes to how brokers and others are educated and qualified. The paper examines other proficiency models, such as those in use in the United States and the United Kindgom, in consideration of whether Canada should consider moving to a multi-provider model, or make other sorts of changes to the existing system.

In the paper, IIROC notes that the U.S. and UK approaches "both require significant regulatory oversight and operational infrastructure to function". Given the much smaller Canadian market, taking a similar approach would likely be more costly in terms of both time and money to fund the necessary regulatory oversight, and the education and testing costs would also be higher, it suggests.

"Looking forward, and with the benefit of industry and other stakeholder input, IIROC will consider and evaluate the current IIROC model and alternative approaches to proficiency assurance," it says in its paper. "IIROC will consider what type of approach best serves the public interest and meets IIROC's regulatory needs as well as the needs of the industry, taking into account historical and regulatory context, cost, the IIROC approval scheme, enrolment volumes and other relevant factors."

It notes that ultimately "IIROC may conclude that the current model remains the best option, or it may be that certain elements of other models can be adopted in order to improve upon the current IIROC proficiency assurance model."

As it stands, IIROC's exclusive agreement with the CSI is set to expire in January 2016. The deal has run for 10 years, stemming from CSI's spin-off from IIROC predecessor, the Investment Dealers Association of Canada (IDA), into a for-profit business back in 2005. At the time, it was sold to a private equity fund; and, in 2010, the fund sold CSI to Moody's Corp.

Now, in anticipation of the expiry of that deal, IIROC is launching this broad review of the proficiency and education system in order to garner input well ahead of the 2016 deadline. The comment period for the paper is open until November 17. In addition to seeking feedback on the paper, IIROC says that its consultations will also include presentations to, and discussions with, dealers, IIROC advisory committees and district councils, and roundtable sessions.

"High proficiency standards play a critical role in investor protection and the integrity and efficiency of the Canadian capital markets," said Susan Wolburgh Jenah, president and CEO of IIROC. "As industry and investor needs evolve, this consultation represents an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure that we continually enhance the standards of proficiency and professionalism in the industry."