The Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) Investor Advisory Panel (IAP) is throwing its support behind an initiative to help investment firms enhance the protection of seniors and other vulnerable clients.

In a letter to the investor advocacy group, the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (a.k.a. FAIR Canada), the IAP says it supports FAIR Canada’s efforts to develop a new protocol in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL).

The protocol would include guidance for financial services firms on action they could take to boost the protection of vulnerable investors where fraud or other forms of financial abuse are suspected. It also supports the creation of a legal “safe harbour” to protect firms that take action intended to protect vulnerable clients.

“The panel supports this work, noting such provisions have already been adopted in the U.S. where FINRA, supported by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, recently took similar steps to address the financial exploitation of seniors,” the IAP says in its letter.

In addition, the IAP recommends that these efforts be bolstered by adequate training in this area for frontline staff at investment firms; that firms should properly document these types of interventions; and that any recommendations coming from the initiative should be harmonized, as much as possible, with other jurisdictions.

“Overall, the panel lauds this effort to implement rules that empower investment firms to detect and prevent the financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable investors,” the IAP’s letter says. “Having a trusted person to contact when financial exploitation is suspected and enabling firms to temporarily place a hold on account activity will help reduce the frequency and impact of seniors falling victim to abuse and fraud.”