On March 20 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission published OSC Staff Notice 11-779 Seniors Strategy (the Staff Notice), which outlined new initiatives to respond to the needs of older investors and better equip registered firms and representatives to address issues that may arise as their clients age.

The Staff Notice has its origins in a 2017 Government of Ontario document, Aging with Confidence, which was an action plan dealing with the challenges faced by Ontario’s seniors. The OSC’s Seniors Strategy (the Strategy) was an outgrowth of the action plan, with the goal of a more secure financial future for older investors in Ontario.

Key Elements:

The key elements of the Strategy include:

  • Developing a framework to address issues of financial exploitation and cognitive impairment among older investors, which includes:
    • a requirement that registered firms and their representatives make reasonable efforts to obtain the name and contact information for a client’s “trusted contact person” in case of concerns over a client’s behaviour or transactions in their account;
    • enabling registered firms and their representatives (for example, through a safe harbour) to place a temporary hold on disbursements from a client’s account or make a disclosure to a trusted contact person when they have a reasonable belief that financial exploitation or fraud has occurred, is occurring, or will be attempted or have a reasonable belief that a client’s judgement may be impaired;
    • guidance for registered firms and their representatives when engaging with older clients, such as collecting sufficient information about a client, supervising client accounts and communicating effectively with clients and supporting their decision making as they age.
  • Addressing registered firms’ and their representatives’ use of confusing and misleading titles, designations, and marketing practices, including issues related to older investors.
  • Strengthening the OBSI (Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments) and exploring how the dispute resolution process can better respond to the issues of older investors.
  • Working with other regulators and organizations toward a common goal of designing policies and programs that serve the interests of older individuals in areas such as powers of attorney and privacy laws.
  • Enhancing the OSC’s education and outreach activities to provide tools and resources for older investors, their families and caregivers who support them, as well as their registered firms and representatives, and improving the ways in which it delivers information through written materials, digital publications and in-person engagement.

OSC Staff Notice 11-779 Seniors Strategy and the attached whitepaper is available for download from the Ontario Securities Commission website.

For more information, please call Barbara Hendrickson at BAX Securities Law (416) 601 -1004.

This publication is not intended to constitute legal advice. No one should act on it or refrain from acting on it without consulting with a lawyer. BAX does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy or currency or completeness of the publication. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of BAX Securities Law.