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Stay tuned on deferred sales charges (DSCs) — that’s the message to the investment industry from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

Speaking at the regulator’s annual conference, Raymond Chan, director of the investment funds and structured products branch at the OSC, said that the regulator — along with the rest of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) — is still working on a revised policy stance on DSCs.

The regulators have been reconsidering their approach to DSCs since last September, when the CSA proposed to ban both DSCs and the payment of trailer fees to discount brokers. At the time, Ontario’s new government immediately voiced its opposition to the proposed ban on DSCs, throwing the CSA’s plans into doubt.

In a panel discussion at the conference on Thursday, Chan reiterated that regulators are still working on their approach to DSCs.

He declined to indicate when a decision may come from the regulators, only saying that once they reach a policy conclusion it will be communicated to the industry “as soon as possible.”

Chan said that the regulators are “committed to addressing the underlying policy concerns that have been identified,” but that they are also reconsidering their proposed approach with their new focus on reducing regulatory burdens.

“The discussion is not about whether advisors can get paid or not, the discussion is about how advisors get paid,” he said, adding that regulators are also sensitive to preserving access to advice for small investors, and to facilitating industry innovation that could possibly help address the regulators’ concerns.

Chan also indicated that the CSA’s proposed ban on the payment of trailers to discount brokers is under debate among the regulators.

That practice, which is now the subject of several class action lawsuits, may be addressed by an industry solution, Chan suggested — such as funds paying reduced trailers to discounters to account for the fact that they don’t provide investors with advice, or firms rebating some portion of the trailer for transactions that don’t involve advice.

Here again, the message from the regulators was “stay tuned.”