Dealing with Canadian securities regulation is like a “whack-a-mole” game for advisory firms where a new issue pops up as soon as another has been dealt with, according to legal experts speaking at the Portfolio Management Association of Canada’s (PMAC) Toronto Compliance Forum on Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean firms can shy away from integrating those new rules into their practices particularly in regards to the new client relationship model (CRM 2).
“Every time there’s a new significant rule, which we liken to a mole, it pops its head up and registrants have just been trying to whack it down, have been just trying to keep up with the sheer number of pronouncements coming down the pipe,” said Prema Thiele, partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, who spoke at the event.
There are over 100 new and revised requirements in CRM 2 that are either currently in effect or will do so over the next three years. As such, CRM 2 is a massive project that is also extremely important and should not be looked at as “just another mole” to knock down, said Rebecca Cowdery, partner, Borden Ladner Gervais, who also spoke at the event.
Furthermore, it’s not only the compliance department that should handle the CRM 2 moles, Cowdery says the new requirements will affect everyone in an advisory firm from advisors to senior executives. Advisors in particular will feel the impact of the new rules because they are the ones who deal with clients on a day-to-day basis.
“The dealing and advising representatives, they’re the ones who are going to have to explain all this to their clients,” says Cowdery, “and help their clients understand the information that they’re going to be receiving.”
As such, in light of the complexity and importance of the initiative, Cowdery and Thiele agree that preparation for CRM 2 cannot be put off. “You’ve got to start now planning all of the transition periods,” says Cowdery, “and figuring out how you’re actually going to get all of that done by 2016.”
Firms and their compliance departments that try to implement the new rules without a plan, she says, may find that the process is costly and could increase regulatory risk.
A properly implemented plan, however, means a better overall experience for clients. “If you do CRM 2 right it can enhance the investor experience,” says Cowdery. “It is designed to enhance the knowledge and experience and the information provided to clients so that they can understand what kind of services they’re being given by the different registrants.”