Investment firms can keep client complaints on file electronically, according to new guidance from the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

The industry self-regulatory organization (SRO) has issued guidance that clarifies that dealers can keep client records in electronic format, as long as they comply with the prevailing record retention obligations.

IIROC said that its retention requirements for client complaints — which must be kept on file for seven years — are intended to be “technology neutral.”

If firms decide to rely on electronic records, IIROC said they must remain “retrievable within a reasonable time,” and should be “clear, legible and secure.”

The guidance on electronic record-keeping came in response to requests for clarity, the SRO said.

While the guidance allows electronic record-keeping, IIROC said there are certain cases where firms should retain original documents.

“For example, if a client alleges signature forgery, the dealer should maintain a copy of the original signed document so it can be examined for authenticity,” IIROC said.