In 2019, industry and global developments continued to impact the MFDA and its Members, including changes in regulation, consumer expectations, demographics, industry economics and technologies.
Recognizing these changes, the three main goals of our 2018-2022 Strategic Plan – (1) Innovate (2) Collaborate and Educate and (3) Update - informed our regulatory activities and initiatives in FY 2019:
MFDA staff have been assisting MFDA Members in bringing forward and implementing new technologies to facilitate the delivery of new products, such as exchange traded funds, and services such as electronic reporting, signatures, onboarding and advisory services, to clients. We understand that the MFDA has a role to play in ensuring that innovation and new technology are adopted in a manner that meets regulatory requirements and protects investors. We continue to dialogue with Members to provide guidance and assistance with respect to new products, services and technology. In 2019, the MFDA, through its cybersecurity assessment program, provided guidance and assistance to Members to strengthen their cybersecurity practices. MFDA staff also began a review of MFDA regulatory requirements to ensure that the current Rules remain sufficiently flexible to accommodate emerging business models.
Collaborate and Educate
In FY 2019, the MFDA conducted a Member Outreach Initiative and the MFDA received valuable feedback from Members about industry trends, innovation, regulatory issues and challenges for investors and Members. This valuable feedback will be used to inform our regulatory initiatives and approach going forward.
With respect to education and proficiency, over the past year, MFDA staff continued to develop its Continuing Education regime which will cover over 80,000 Approved Persons of MFDA Members. We also provided training to Members on matters such as senior investors, suitability, supervision, KYC information, outside activities, signature falsification and branch review programs. During the Member Outreach Initiative, many Members requested that the MFDA continue to provide guidance, education and other support to Members in dealing with issues pertaining to vulnerable clients and potential financial abuse, including support for temporary holds when there is a need to protect senior and vulnerable clients. In the fall of 2019, the MFDA will be holding its third Seniors Summit for Members which will build upon the foundation set by the previous two Seniors Summits and provide Members with guidance and updates on topics related to best serving and protecting seniors.
We continue to seek opportunities to provide meaningful tools and resources to investors in order to promote informed decision-making. Going forward, we will continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with other regulators, industry associations and investor associations and to share information and ideas to help further reach Canadian investors with relevant and timely information on investing and the advisory process.
In FY 2019, the MFDA continued to engage in research initiatives with the objective of delivering data driven regulation focused on key risk areas. The 2016 MFDA Client Research Project provided the MFDA with valuable information and insight into Members' business, their Approved Persons and their clients. In 2018, the MFDA commenced an Approved Person Targeted Review utilizing information obtained from the Client Research Project. This initiative was part of our continued efforts to enhance suitability testing in examinations by further utilizing technology and data to help identify patterns or trends and target issues, such as concentration risk and unsuitable investments for seniors. We issued a report outlining our findings and recommendations in April 2019. In order to support the MFDA's ongoing compliance efforts, MFDA staff began conducting a second Client Research Project in 2018.
The next fiscal year will likely bring more regulatory change and evolution for Members with anticipated finalization of several CSA policy initiatives. We remain committed to assisting Members in navigating and implementing these changes in a practical and efficient manner. In addressing regulatory issues, we will continue to look for solutions that achieve the objective of investor protection while avoiding undue regulatory costs and burden.
As I reflect on our activities and accomplishments during the past 12 months, it is obvious that the MFDA could not successfully serve its membership and Canadian investors if it were not for the dedication and engagement of the Board of Directors and MFDA staff. Thank you all for your continued support and guidance.
Mark T. Gordon, LL.B.
President & Chief Executive Officer