On national Check Registration Day, the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR Canada) is calling on Canadian regulators to improve investor access to registration information.
FAIR Canada said Tuesday that it fully supports the Canadian Securities Administrators’ (CSA) initiative to encourage consumers to check the registration of any firm or individual selling securities or offering investment advice. However, in an open letter to the CSA, it calls upon the provincial regulators to improve the system for examining registration, and other background information.
“We do not believe that regulators appreciate the difficulty that consumers encounter in conducting a full and proper registration check using the current system,” it says, noting that the current system is very complicated and necessitates the search of several databases. It also requires the consumer to know the registered name of the firm, although this may not be the business name the consumer knows, it notes.
Additionally, FAIR Canada questions the CSA’s assertion that “registration status or category is more important than a title”; noting that it does not believe that the average investor knows enough about registration categories to understand whether a firm or individual is selling investments that they are qualified to sell, or to provide advice.
The investor advocacy group suggests that regulators “need to provide a single, national comprehensive background check that Canadians can easily use to check the background, registration status, proficiency and disciplinary history of registrants.”
It says this system should include information from the self-regulatory organizations, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA). And, it points to the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) BrokerCheck and IIROC’s AdvisorReport as more comprehensive and accessible databases. “We recommend that Canadian regulators look to these systems as examples,” it says; adding that they should also consult with investors to inform the design of such a system.
“The provision of a simpler, more user-friendly interface for consumers to check the registration of any person or firm who sells securities or offers investment advice will assist consumers in performing the necessary checks to ensure that the firm or individual is appropriately registered,” it says. “We believe that Canadian securities regulators must provide an accessible and user-friendly system in the interests of investor protection.”