Following a year-long search for savings, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has unveiled a set of sweeping recommendations for reducing regulatory compliance costs that it estimates will save millions of dollars annually for the securities industry and issuers.
The OSC released a report on Tuesday outlining the results of its review that sought to root out sources of needless “regulatory burden” and identify policy or procedural changes it could adopt to help curb compliance costs.
The report set out 107 recommendations, including 30 that target registered firms, 24 that focus on investment funds and 18 in the derivatives market, along with other recommendations that are expected to benefit issuers or all market participants.
The OSC estimated that the average annual cost savings of 21 of its recommendations (for which it could reasonably estimate the impact) would be $7.8 million.
For example, the OSC projected that changes to mutual fund disclosure filing requirements will save $1.5 million annually; amendments to codify exemptive relief in funds’ conflicts applications will save $1.2 million annually; and reducing the need for financial statements in business acquisition reports (BARs) will save another $1.6 million per year.
Industry trade groups are applauding the OSC’s efforts.
“We believe many of the measures outlined in the report show that the OSC has listened and responded to stakeholder feedback and proposed meaningful ways to reduce the time and cost of compliance,” said Katie Walmsley, president of the Portfolio Management Association of Canada. “This will allow firms to focus more squarely on servicing investors and innovating on a corporate level.”
The Alternative Investment Management Association (AMIA) of Canada also welcomed the regulator’s recommendations.
“The 100+ steps outlined in the report are a great start to streamlining market participation for both public and private industry participants,” said Claire Van Wyk-Allan, director, head of Canada, AIMA.
Some of the OSC’s recommendations don’t affect regulatory requirements, but aim to ease firms’ dealings with regulators.
For example, the OSC said that smaller registered firms “will particularly benefit from knowing what to expect during compliance reviews.”
“Innovative fintech firms will benefit from more support and flexibility in the registration process through OSC LaunchPad,” the OSC added.
The report indicated that the regulator has already taken action on some of the recommendations. Others will need to go through the usual rule-making process, and certain reforms will require “legislative amendments, harmonization with other regulators, or long-term investments in technology, systems or expertise.”
These more complicated changes will take longer to adopt, while the more straightforward reforms should take place within a year.
“We’ve taken a good look at our work to see how we can do things better,” said Maureen Jensen, chair and CEO of the OSC, in a statement. “Our progress in just under a year shows our commitment to working differently, and I would like to thank the Ministry of Finance for their support throughout this process.”
“The OSC has made major progress in reducing the burden for Ontario’s market participants,” added Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips.
The OSC said that it will continue to work with the provincial government to implement the reforms that require ministerial approval or legislative changes, and that it is also creating a new Office of Economic Growth and Innovation, which will support its “long-term burden reduction efforts.”