Standard Life supports Marois’ initiative to create the Agence nationale d’encadrement du secteur financier

MONTREAL, Aug. 14, 2002 – Claude Garcia, president of the Canadian operations of Standard Life, spoke to the Commission des finances publiques about Bill 107 at the National Assembly today. The purpose of the bill is to change the regulatory structure of Quebec’s financial sector from a number of separate regulating bodies into one single regulatory agency – l’Agence nationale d’encadrement du secteur financier.

Mr. Garcia told the Commission members that Standard Life is not suggesting the elimination of supervision but is appealing for a better-organized system that is more competitive and efficient. That is, Standard Life supports Minister Marois’ proposal of one provincial regulatory body, so long as the Quebec government would allow the Agency to enter into mutual recognition agreements with other provincial and federal regulators. This type of mutual recognition system would reduce costs and ensure a certain level of competitive equity.

Standard Life believes that with the global changes in the financial sector, like the consolidation of financial institutions and distributors, reform is needed to make regulatory bodies more in tune with the industry. As it stands now, the financial regulatory system in Canada is two-tiered. Provinces have jurisdiction over some sectors while the federal government regulates other aspects of the industry. This means that companies are subject to a multitude of monitoring agencies. For example, since Standard Life conducts business across Canada, it is subject to more than 30 regulatory bodies that administer over 60 laws. The complexity of the system means that costs are very high. A recent study showed that in Canada, the direct cost of regulating the financial sector is approximately $489 million while in England, with twice the population, a total of $493 million is spent with about 1,000 less employees to oversee and regulate the industry.

Mr. Garcia concluded his comments with recommendations on how to improve the structure and jurisdiction of the Agency with the isolation of certain powers to the Agency’s President and Chief Executive Officer and the rest to a collegial body. This would ensure impartiality and legal fairness as well as reduce excessive concentration of powers in the hands of one person.

In Canada, Standard Life has over $28 billion in assets under management and offers a wide range of financial products and services to more than 1 million clients. Its 2,200 employees are committed to providing superior customer service from its headquarters in Montréal, its six regional offices, as well as from its 20 sales offices across the country. Standard Life’s products and services include group savings and retirement, group life and health, individual life insurance, savings and retirement. Through affiliated companies, it also offers mutual funds and portfolio management services. Total premium income and deposits reached $3.7 billion in 2001. (www.standardlife.ca)

Standard Life is part of the Standard Life Assurance Company
(The Standard Life Group) founded in Edinburgh (Scotland) in 1825. The Group is the largest mutual insurance company in Europe with over 12,000 employees, more than $189 billion in assets under management and over 5 million customers in, among others, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Spain, India and Hong Kong. The Group has also established two representative offices in China. Total premium income reached close to $19 billion in 2001. It is one of only a few life assurance groups worldwide to have been awarded a ‘Triple A’ classification – the highest possible – by leading international ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. (www.standardlife.com)