Whose Advice Can You Trust? Advocis Embarks on Campaign for Regulatory Reform

Toronto (July 11, 2003) Designations matter. That’s the overwhelming message behind Advocis’ efforts to effect regulatory change for Canada’s professional financial advisors.

“Whether it be in insurance, securities, or mutual funds, the role of advice and advice givers is not recognized,” said Steve Howard, Advocis president and CEO. “Yet, it is advice that convinces consumers that they should be purchasing those products. None of the governing regulations for these disciplines recognizes the role of advice, nor does doing so appear to be on the regulators’ agenda.”

Howard maintains that adding more complexity to the already existing regulations for selling financial products in the name of consumer protection is misguided. “Consumers aren’t well served when their advisor is hamstrung by dealer-imposed restrictions that limit the advisor’s ability to offer choice to their clients. But that’s where the regulators are going. Instead, they should partner with designation-granting associations such as the FPSC, AIMR, the CSI, and the CLU Institute – groups that are already offering a far higher standard to the public than the regulators can even envision. And it’s a solution that’s ready made. All of these associations already operate on a national basis,” he added.

That’s the message Howard and Advocis chair Brian Mallard have been giving during their recent road trip to meet regulators and politicians, including Stephen Sibold, chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), the federally appointed Wise Persons Committee charged with the responsibility of reforming securities regulation across the country, the Joint Forum of Market Regulators, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR), the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, securities regulators in Ontario and B.C., and individual politicians. During these meetings, Howard and Mallard pressed the point that consumers need advice they can trust and that an advisor-centred approach to regulation is the way to go. They are scheduled to meet with the provincial securities review committee soon.

Advocis’ push for reform is a reaction to several securities regulatory views, but most notably the CSA’s promotion of the Uniform Securities Legislation, which attempts to harmonize provincial securities regulation with the stated objective of making capital markets more efficient. This legislation must be approved by each of the provincial governments.

The road trip comes on the heels of the Advocis national conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland last month. Attendees at the Association’s annual general meeting gave their support for the political action campaign. Mallard summed up the association’s plans when he said: “We believe in meaningful regulation. Regulation that protects the consumer and is also fair to professional advisors. Today we have neither of those.”

Advocis is Canada’s largest association of financial advisors, with members in 50 chapters across the country. Advocis members adhere to a strict Code of Professional Conduct, meet ongoing continuing education requirements, and are committed to putting the interests of their clients first. Visit our Web site at www.advocis.ca.