The regulation of advice may be facing a revolution as the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) re-examines the borders around advice, including whether discount brokers should be able to provide some form of it.
The prospect of redrawing the boundaries around advice was set out in the OSC’s draft statement of priorities, which details the regulator’s agenda for the coming year.
Specifically, the OSC indicated it aims to study the regulation and provision of advice in the order execution only (OEO) channel, which includes discount brokers and robo-advisors.
“There is an increasing consensus that the present limitations on advice being provided by OEO firms are preventing important information from being provided to do-it-yourself (DIY) investors who are increasingly seeking advice from unregistered channels, including social media platforms,” the regulator said in its draft statement.
The result is that investors may be getting information that is “incomplete or misleading, and in some cases may not comply with securities laws,” it said.
And OEO firms may be prevented from providing risk warnings to investors about products or services, such as leveraged investments, meme stocks, options trading and margin, it noted.
Given these concerns, the OSC said that, along with the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), it will examine “whether OEO firms can provide non-tailored advice to meet the needs of DIY investors while not diluting the value of robust established advice channels so the two are not confused.”
The rethinking of advice falls on a long list of proposed priorities for the regulator, including long-standing goals — with the rest of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) — such as proposing binding authority for the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.
It’s also planning work to assess the implementation of the client-focused reforms, including compliance sweeps (with CIRO and the rest of the CSA) targeting know-your-client, know-your-product, and suitability requirements.
Additionally, the OSC (again, along with CIRO and the CSA) will further investigate dealers’ product shelves “and the decisions to rely on predominantly proprietary products.”
The OSC will also propose a rule to govern the distribution of disgorged money to harmed investors.
“The proposed priorities build on the OSC’s ongoing work to deliver on our mandate to modernize regulation and respond quickly to market changes,” said Grant Vingoe, CEO of the OSC, in a release.
“As we consider our work through the lens of evolving macroeconomic conditions and investor attitudes, we are taking a long-term view to ensure our capital markets continue to deliver compelling investment opportunities and strong investor protection,” he said.
Alongside the extensive list of policy priorities, the OSC will craft a new strategic plan, in the wake of the regulator’s recent reorganization (spinning off the adjudicative function), the results of the provincial auditor general’s latest review, and the recommendations of the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce.
“Together, these changes have prompted the need for a new and refreshed strategic plan to ensure that we are well-positioned for the future,” the OSC said. “[W]e are exploring options for our strategic direction, and defining our priorities for the next six years.”
The regulator aims to publish its plan in the spring.
In the meantime, comments on the draft statement of priorities are due by Dec. 18.