Canada's leading shareholder advocacy group is urging regulators to reject a request from the brokerage industry to delay implementation of long-awaited new disclosure rules that will provide investors with expanded information about the fees they pay to advisers.
The Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (FAIR) has sent a letter to provincial securities commissions recommending they stick to their implementation deadlines for a new disclosure project that will require investment dealers to give clients annual statements detailing the performance of their investments and outlining all the fees they paid to advisers.
FAIR Canada executive director Neil Gross said his association believes there is plenty of time available for investment firms to meet the deadlines, and said he understands from industry sources that the major bank-owned firms and many other large brokerage firms are on schedule to provide the disclosure.
"It is critical that this information get into the hands of investors without further delay," he said in the letter delivered Monday to regulators.
The Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), a trade association representing brokerage firms, sent a request to regulators in December asking them to delay the July, 2015, deadline to comply with an initial deadline for partial implementation of the new rules, and to also delay the subsequent July, 2016, deadline to provide complete disclosure of all required information.
IIAC said the required disclosures in the Client Relationship Model – known as CRM2 within the investment industry – are proving complex for member firms to implement.
"CRM2 is simple in its purpose and more complex in its multiple implementation phases than a few formulas and a couple of new fields," IIAC managing director Barbara Amsden said in a Dec. 20 letter to regulators.
IIAC also argued that mid-year implementation dates may be confusing to investors who will receive performance data for only part of a year instead of a full year. As a result, IIAC urged regulators to delay the initial July 15, 2015, deadline by six months to Jan. 1, 2016, and suggested the subsequent deadline of July 15, 2016, should be shifted to Jan. 1, 2017.
However, Mr. Gross said the deadlines have been clear since 2012, and firms could have opted to meet the disclosure requirements early if they wished to provide full year performance data. Alternatively, they can still simply provide initial data for a half year and then switch to full year reporting at the start of a calendar year, he said.
He said firms that have not made CRM2 a priority and are behind schedule do not deserve an extension, and said large projects rarely get completed faster by extending the deadlines.
"Generally what gets a stalled project completed is not additional time, but rather additional resources and determination," the FAIR letter argues.
The Ontario Securities Commission's arm's-length investor advisory panel, which advocates for shareholder interests, has also urged regulators to turn down the request for a delay, arguing it "is not justified and is not in the public interest."
"Canadian investors have waited long enough for disclosure of the costs and investment performance of their accounts," panel chair Connie Craddock wrote in a December letter to securities regulators.