The Ontario Securities Commission’s investor advisory panel is calling for a wider mandate, greater funding, and a bigger role in policymaking at the regulator.

The IAP is an independent advisory panel that was established in September 2010 to provide investor input on OSC rulemaking initiatives.

In the past year, it has commented on a number of key investor issues, including calling for a fiduciary duty for advisors, and improved access to restitution for wronged investors, along with providing input on a variety of proposed rules.

Advisory panel gains traction

In its first annual report published Friday, the panel proposes several steps that would expand its advocacy efforts. In particular, it says that, given the interdependent nature of capital markets, the panel “is concerned that its ability to respond to issues that affect investors broadly speaking is circumscribed by a somewhat narrow mandate.”

It suggests that it needs a broader mandate that would allow to comment on regulatory issues, including proposed regulation from the self-regulatory organizations and stock exchanges; issues of concern to investors, such as the recent controversy concerning the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments; and regulatory developments in other jurisdictions.

Additionally, the panel is seeking deeper, and more frequent, interaction with the commission. It suggests that the commission could respond to its submissions in writing to give it a better sense of whether its input is useful. It suggests that quarterly meetings with commission personnel would be helpful, and that it could benefit from greater access to commission staff and studies when preparing submissions and researching topics.

It would also like to be able to expand its outreach efforts to investors, including investors outside Toronto. To allow that, it’s requesting more annual funding to undertake research and outreach. The panel currently has a $50,000 annual budget, and the report indicates that it spent $55,000 in its first year. In addition, it is seeking funding for paid research assistance, which has so far been provided for free by law firm, Bennett Jones LLP; and greater remuneration for the panel members, including possibly hiring full-time panel members.

In terms of policy, the report says that the panel’s priorities for the upcoming year, include supporting: the implementation of a fiduciary duty on financial service professionals, a restitutionary remedy for wronged investors, transparency in information at point of sale and whistleblowing rights.

“We are pleased with our success this year in tackling issues of great importance to investors and in relaying these concerns to the OSC,” said Professor Anita Anand, chair of the IAP. “We look forward to extending our consultations with investors across Ontario and further understanding their views. It is only by hearing from investors directly that we can accurately represent them.”