The federal government’s new national Do Not Call List has significant potential to change the business for some advisors — especially those who make cold calls.

The purpose of the national DNCL rules, which come into effect on Sept. 30, is to protect the privacy of Canadians from unwanted calls on everything from financial products to time-share real estate; the rules are in line with those established in the U.S.

The new legislation, developed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, covers a variety of professionals, including financial advisors who use the phone or fax to make unsolicited attempts to make a sale. There are exemptions, including those who call on behalf of charities, political parties or pollsters — as well as calls to consumers with whom you already have a business relationship.

The rules boil down to one crucial item: do you have express consent from clients who have registered with the national DNCL to phone them to talk about buying other products? Express consent, which can be withdrawn by the consumer at any time, can be written, including a signature on say, a new application form; but it can also be oral or in an e-mail. Referrals are not considered express consent.

Sometimes, the situation gets tricky, such as in the case of an advisor who is dually licensed in mutual funds and life and health insurance. The advisor has sold mutual funds to a consumer and has an established business relationship, but the client now requires insurance. If the client asks for the insurance, then that is considered both express consent and an inquiry under the existing business relationship exemption, which allows the advisor to call the client during a period of six months after the inquiry is made to sell the insurance product.

However, the advisor can’t bring up the insurance issue unless the client had agreed to be called for other services at some earlier point. Nor does an existing business relationship extend to affiliates unless the client has given express consent to the disclosure of personal information (such as name and telephone number) to the affiliates for the purposes of telemarketing other products and services to the client.

As well, each individual affiliate in a company needs to register and subscribe to the national DNCL; and each affiliate must keep its own DNCL in case a prospective or existing client specifically requests not to be called again. A specific request not to be called overrides any existing business relationship exemption to the national DNCL rules. When the sales force has a principal/agent relationship with the affiliate, then only the affiliate (and not the advi-sors) has to register and subscribe to the national DNCL.

Who needs to subscribe to the DNCL when the mutual fund dealer uses independent representatives — the dealer or the rep? This is one of the questions still being worked out before the rules go into effect, Nancy Webster Cole, a senior manager with the CRTC, told a recent Investment Funds Institute of Canada seminar. A bulletin is expected to be issued early this month that will try to unravel remaining questions; it will be posted on IFIC’s Web site,

It’s also important to remember that the national DNCL is not static. After a consumer registers, there is a 31-day grace period to allow telemarketers to download the list and disseminate it to their sales force. However, the information provided to telemarketers contains only telephone numbers, not the consumer’s registration date. Checking the national DNCL frequently (even daily) will be a necessity for those hoping to cold call. A consumer’s registration is in effect for three years.

There are times when you can call people who have registered on the national DNCL. That includes those to whom you’ve sold a service or product within the past 18 months of your next call; a consumer who has asked or applied for a product or service in the six months before your call; and a consumer who has a written contract that is either currently in existence or has expired within the 18-month period prior to making your call. IE

Joanne De Laurentiis is president and CEO of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada.