priority / Nuthawut Somsuk

Despite its expanded mandate, investor protection has not been forgotten, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) insists in its latest statement of priorities.

The regulator published the final version of its priorities — the document that sets its strategic goals for the year ahead — on Tuesday following a consultation that began last fall.

The OSC responded to some of the criticism it received on its initial draft — including that investor protection issues were getting short shrift amid its expanded mandate to also foster capital formation and competition.

“Investor protection remains a top priority in all initiatives and actions we undertake, including within our day-to-day core regulatory and operational work,” the regulator said in the statement.

The OSC also addressed specific issues raised during the consultation.

For instance, the OSC reiterated its pledge to introduce binding authority at the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, along with the rest of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) and the new industry self-regulatory organization.

Additionally, investor advocates called on the OSC to ensure it’s enforcing compliance with the new client-focused reforms (CFRs), particularly its new provisions for dealing with conflicts of interest.

“Our compliance focus, along with the CSA and new SRO, has been examining certain registrants’ implementation of the conflicts of interest requirements in the CFRs, including examining how registrants have addressed the conflicts of interest associated with offering proprietary products in the best interest of clients,” the OSC said in its final priorities.

The regulator added that it will issue additional guidance to industry firms as it carries out compliance sweeps and reviews that uncover compliance and implementation issues.

Changes to the final version of the regulator’s priorities also include enhancing its commitment to address Indigenous issues, clarifying its role in overseeing the new investor input mechanisms at the new SRO, and highlighting its action on various investor issues.

“As we publish our first statement of priorities under our new organizational and governance structure changes, we continue to adapt and respond to innovation and evolving markets with effective regulation, foster capital formation and competition, as well as deliver on our strong investor protection mandate,” said Grant Vingoe, chief executive officer at the OSC, in a release.