Cropped shot of an unidentifiable businesswoman

The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) has been discussing dual registration with members since December 2022, and three firms have achieved that status to date.

While the regulator would not disclose their names, “[there are] a number of firms who are in the process of becoming dually registered and still more firms who have approached us to discuss their application for dual registration,” a spokesperson for CIRO wrote in an email to Investment Executive.

Dual registration allows an institution to conduct both investment dealer and mutual-fund dealer business within the same legal entity without having to upgrade the proficiencies of their staff who are only registered to sell mutual funds.

CIRO notes that the process of becoming dually registered requires changes to systems, technologies and processes, and could span several years.

“The term ‘dual registration’ has not been really well understood by the industry,” said Robert Frances, founder and CEO of Peak Financial Group, and a member of CIRO’s board of directors.

His position is that Peak has been dual registered for more than 20 years, as the firm has well-established investment and mutual-fund arms. “What we need to do now is harmonize our registrations internally, and that’s where we turn to CIRO,” he explained.

The firm has recommended that advisors who want to switch registrations hold off as the regulatory integration continues, Frances said, as future regulatory direction may allow the advisors to avoid repapering all of their clients.

“[Peak] is not of such a big size that each [type of business] is run as a completely separate company. We’re big enough to have all of the registration [inclusive of oversight by the Autorité des marchés financiers in Quebec] but, at $14 billion in assets, we were able to keep it all pretty well connected,” he said.

Peak has established an advisor committee to help keep track of CIRO developments and their impact, “so that it’s not only management that is going up to CIRO and contributing.”

Many other firms in the Report Card series also have both investment and mutual fund arms, and some shared their insights into their registration progress.

Don’t miss the 2023 Dealers’ Report Card, which will go live on Mon., Aug. 28.

CI Assante Wealth Management 

“Yes, we are seeking dual registration. Our chief compliance officer has been engaged with CIRO and internal business leaders to determine the appropriate pathway for us,” said Sean Etherington, president.

IG Wealth Management  

“No formal applications have been submitted yet from our firm,” said Brent Allen, head of strategy and business operations, in an emailed statement. Internal discussions are ongoing, after “a very busy first half of the year in M&A activity,” and the firm expects to review its options for registration in the year to come.

iA Financial Group (parent company of iA Private Wealth and Investia Financial Services)

“iA has a wealth strategy and, within that strategy, we are getting dual registration for iA Private Wealth,” said a representative in an emailed statement.

Investia president Louis DeConinck said in a separate statement that Investia will remain a mutual-fund dealer that also offers ETFs.

Investment Planning Counsel Inc. 

The dual registration process is “certainly in the early stages. The [management] team is looking at all options, making sure it’s the right strategy for advisors and for clients,” said Sam Febbraro, executive vice-president of IPC, and president and CEO with Counsel Portfolio Services. “We will look for opportunities to make it as seamless and as efficient as possible,” especially since the firm’s current focus is the recent acquisition by Canada Life.

Worldsource Wealth Management 

For the next 12 months, Worldsource will focus on transitioning to ownership by Desjardins — leaving possible dual registration on the backburner but still “on the radar.”

The Worldsource businesses “will continue to operate as standalone entities,” offering independence and open product architecture for advisors, said a Desjardins representative in an emailed statement. However, “dealer synergies that can be leveraged for profitable growth” will be explored as the firm rolls out new digital tools, portfolios and portals.

The firm added that advisors can already move between the investment and mutual-fund platforms, meaning “there isn’t that immediate need” for dual registration.