Despite some interest in technology-based solutions for handling the increasing number of disclosure documents resulting from new regulatory requirements, any large-scale shift to online delivery or access for clients remains a long way off, according to experts speaking at a securities conference in Toronto on Tuesday.
“In the last few years, there’s been a lot more focus on electronic delivery, which I think can only be a good thing for investors,” said Rebecca Cowdery, partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, who spoke at the Canadian Institute’s 23rd Annual Forum on Securities Regulation in Toronto on Tuesday.
For example, Cowdery sees a place for clients to be able to visit a specific online portal to view everything relating to their accounts as part of the account opening process and relationship disclosure information forms.
However, despite this growing interest on online access and delivery, paper is still the preferred method of regulators and clients alike. Said Cowdery: “Securities regulation is written still for a paper world.”
Clients too are not as interested in electronic documents as might be supposed. David Cheop, vice president, corporate compliance, Investors Group Inc. said the number of clients going online to view their account information with his firm is less than what would be expected in today’s world. Of course, each dealership will be different, he said, and some platforms will be more electronic then others, such as a discount brokerage.
While there may be some differences between business models, any shift to firms having 100% electronic delivery and access “will be a long time coming,” said Cheop, as there are likely to always be a set of clients who prefer to have hard copies of documents.