From the Regulators

Investment industry and investor advocate groups are praising the launch of new Fact Cards that can be used to educate investors on various topics

By James Langton |

The Ontario Securities Commission's (OSC) Investor Office launched a new investor education initiative on Wednesday featuring free "digital cards" on a range of topics that can be embedded in third-party websites.

The Fact Cards, which have received the support of both the investment industry and investor advocates alike, can be used to educate investors on several topics, including outlining certain aspects of the second phase client relationship model (CRM2), explaining investment risk and warning about investment fraud.

The digital cards can be embedded in websites with publicly available code, shared through social media, and can be used on mobile devices. They are available in both French and English and can be used by groups ranging from financial services firms to educators, advocacy groups and law enforcement.

"The introduction of Fact Cards continues our modernization of investor education," says Tyler Fleming, director of the OSC's Investor Office, in a statement. "We are delivering investor education in new ways that help it to be widely seen and read by those who need it, and that respond to the changing ways that people are using technology and receiving information."

In addition, Fact Cards will enable organizations to provide investors with educational content without having to develop it themselves, Fleming notes.

The announcement was accompanied by statements of support from 18 organizations, including investment industry groups — such as Advocis, the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), the Investment Funds Institute of Canada and the Federation of Mutual Fund Dealers — and investor advocates — such as the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (a.k.a. FAIR Canada) and the OSC's independent Investor Advisory Panel (IAP).

"FAIR Canada strongly supports the OSC's Investor Office in its efforts to bring key investor protection information to the attention of Canadians. The new Fact Cards are an innovative way to disseminate that information, and we hope they will be widely used to benefit the public," says Neil Gross, FAIR Canada's executive director, in a statement.

"The features, accessibility and credibility of the OSC Fact Cards make them a useful education tool to gain information and insights on the investing process and financial markets. The Fact Cards will contribute importantly to investor confidence and market participation," adds Ian Russell, president and CEO of the IIAC, in a statement.

Canada's Financial Literacy Leader, Jane Rooney, also notes that the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada will be sharing the new cards on its website and via social media to encourage their use: "I am thrilled with the step the [OSC] is taking with these Fact Cards to deliver money management information to investors in a new and innovative way."

Adds Ursula Menke, chairwoman of the OSC's IAP: "While investor education alone is not sufficient, it is still necessary in order to achieve better outcomes for investors. The Investor Office has accomplished much in a short period of time and their multi-pronged efforts to get important information to investors through initiatives such as the Fact Cards are to be commended."

The initiative is also drawing support from organizations such as the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association, the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, along with other investment industry groups, including the Portfolio Management Association of Canada, the National Exempt Market Association, the Private Capital Markets Association and the Canadian ETF Association.

The initial library of Fact Cards is available at www.osc.gov.on.ca/factcards and it will be updated and expanded over time, the OSC indicates.