hand drawing creative business strategy with light bulb as concept

Protecting vulnerable investors, bolstering advisor proficiency and adapting to an evolving industry are some of the top priorities of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) over the next three years.

The self-regulatory organization unveiled a new strategic plan Tuesday that will guide the SRO through to March 31, 2022.

“Our priorities continue to focus on providing more agile and proportionate regulation to enable investment firms to meet Canadians’ changing financial needs and expectations without adding to the regulatory burden,” said Andrew Kriegler, president and CEO of IIROC. “Our ultimate goal is to provide value to all Canadians and the financial system in the way we regulate while continuing to protect investors and promote the health of Canadian capital markets.”

At the top of IIROC’s list is stepping up efforts to protect vulnerable investors, such as seniors — a demographic that is sure to grow as the population ages.

While this work will include enforcement against misconduct that harms vulnerable investors, IIROC also aims to help dealers better protect their vulnerable clients.

To that end, IIROC says it will work with the provincial regulators in the year ahead to develop a safe-harbour rule, and other tools, such as webcasts and education materials, that will enable firms to guard against the exploitation of vulnerable investors.

IIROC also says that it plans to develop “competency profiles” that identify proficiency standards for various parts of the industry in the coming year.

“During this initial phase, we will seek input from our stakeholders, including members, regarding the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for each category. Based upon our own research and consultations, we will then publish draft profiles for public comment,” IIROC stated.

On the enforcement side, IIROC noted that it will continue to seek additional powers from the provinces to pursue investigations, and to enforce its disciplinary decisions while also implementing its plans for new “alternative” forms of discipline.

IIROC says it will continue working with the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) in its reform efforts, such as the client-focused reforms and proposals for addressing investment fund compensation structures.

“As part of this work and as the CSA finalizes its views, we will assess what, if any, rule changes we will need to make in order to be fully aligned with the CSA,” IIROC stated.

In the meantime, the SRO indicated that it also intends to undertake work to reduce needless regulatory burdens by “[identifying] rules and guidance that result in unnecessary process and cost, or that limit the appropriate use of technology” and then dealing with these issues “as appropriate”.

In the short term, IIROC said, it intends to modernize its approach to supervision, adding that it will consider developing new membership categories “in order to provide tailored oversight appropriate to current and developing models.”

Evolving alongside the industry will also be key for IIROC over the next several years.

“Much of our focus over the next three years will involve responding and adapting to new industry and market realities, as well as ensuring organizational readiness for future change as we deliver on our mandate,” IIROC noted in its paper.