Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions� (OSFI) Approvals Process: Consultation Results

December 2004, Ottawa — As part of its mandate of regulating and supervising financial institutions, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) must review various types of transactions, including corporate restructurings, ownership changes, substantial investments, and the setting up of new financial institutions in Canada. Some require the approval of the Superintendent, for others OSFI makes recommendations to the Minister of Finance.

Similar to other organizations in both the public and the private sector, OSFI strives to deliver high-quality service. To measure satisfaction with its services, OSFI conducts periodic surveys and consultations with stakeholder groups. This consultation, and other similar consultations which OSFI will be conducting on a regular basis, are a critical part of how we assess our effectiveness, and fulfil our commitment to continuous improvement.

The most recent survey focussed on OSFI�s approvals process. A detailed overview of the findings can be accessed here: http://www.osfi-bsif.gc.ca/eng/about/reports/index.asp#other

The results show that OSFI has improved from three years ago. In particular, respondents say OSFI is doing a better job of providing information on the requirements for filing an application, improving turnaround times, and having knowledgeable staff. The overwhelming majority of respondents (98%) say they are satisfied with how OSFI is processing applications, and that OSFI�s approvals process compares favourably to that of other regulators and to its counterparts in other countries.

Some other key findings:

  • OSFI�s effectiveness in keeping applicants informed about the status of their application has increased significantly, according to 85% of respondents compared with 66% in 2001

  • OSFI�s timeliness for processing applications is appropriate 70% from 42% in 2001

  • OSFI is sensitive to business deadlines when processing applications 94% compared to 82% in 2001

  • OSFI is very knowledgeable in the areas where applicants are most likely to seek input such as legislation, policy and guidelines

Some challenges were identified, including the need for further improvements on approval timelines, more transparency of the approvals process, and enhancements to the OSFI web site. Another significant challenge is ensuring that the knowledge level of staff keeps pace with an industry that is changing rapidly and becoming more complex. We are working on addressing these issues and will monitor results when we do our next survey.

The consultations conducted by The Strategic Counsel consisted of interviews with senior financial sector executives and lawyers who represent financial institutions. These included domestic and foreign banks, life insurance companies, property and casualty insurers, trust companies and law firms.

OSFI is the primary regulator of federal financial institutions and federally administered pension plans. OSFI’s mission is to protect the rights and interests of depositors, policyholders, pension-plan members and creditors of financial institutions, and to advance and administer a regulatory framework that contributes to public confidence in a competitive financial system. OSFI supervises and regulates all banks and all federally incorporated or registered trust and loan companies, insurance companies, cooperative credit associations, fraternal benefit societies and pension plans.

For further information, please contact OSFI at 1 800 385-8647.