I am pleased to present the MFDA’s 2021 Annual Report. When I wrote my message last year, we were in the midst of the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic that had begun to sweep the globe by the spring of 2020. At that time, I did not expect that the pandemic would still be ongoing today. Thankfully, through shared sacrifice, extraordinary public health measures and innovative scientific and medical advances, there at last appear to be signs that it may soon be coming to an end.
Despite the challenges presented by this pandemic, which has now continued through more than a full year of operations, the MFDA has continued to make significant progress on several of the key initiatives outlined in the MFDA’s current Strategic Plan “Achieving Better Outcomes for Canadians”.
MFDA management and staff, along with our Members and so many other resourceful businesses, adapted quickly to the demands imposed by the pandemic and the measures taken to try to contain the spread of the disease. Many of those adaptations have become woven into the fabric of our everyday lives – the ways that we communicate, work, live and learn have all been transformed by the pandemic. While many of these adaptations have been difficult and will hopefully recede as the pandemic comes to an end, others, such as the accelerated adoption of digital communications and technologies have proven remarkably useful and efficient. This digital transformation has unlocked many benefits and opportunities for organizations and individuals including mutual fund dealers who have further digitized their operations during the pandemic. Investors have benefited too from more convenient options for managing their investments and from increased access to financial advice and services through new digital channels, a development that has been especially important for Canadians in more remote locations.
While digital transformation has been one of the major evolutions in the securities industry over the past year, regulatory transformation will be a significant focus for the future. Earlier this year, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published a position paper setting out its decision to create a new single enhanced SRO to replace Canada’s two existing national SROs – the MFDA and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). This is a positive development, fully supported by the MFDA board and the MFDA management team. We are confident that the new single enhanced SRO envisioned by the CSA will benefit both investors and industry participants alike, providing for efficient and effective regulation in the public interest during a time where capital markets and the needs of investors continue to evolve quickly.
"While digital transformation has been one of the major evolutions in the securities industry over the past year, regulatory transformation will be a significant focus for the future."
The MFDA’s aim has been, and continues to be, to assist the CSA in completing its important work in leading the creation of a new, single enhanced modern SRO (“the New SRO”) that will serve the interests of all stakeholders in a fair and balanced manner. While the work of building the New SRO has only just begun, the MFDA is fully committed to working, under the leadership of the CSA and in collaboration with our IIROC colleagues, toward the goal of developing the best regulatory model and integrating the operations of both our respective SROs into the New SRO in an expedient manner. We also understand the critical importance of making this transition as smooth as possible, and so we look forward to participating in a CSA-led transition process that both minimizes disruptions to industry participants and ensures that there are no interruptions to the investor protection focused regulation we currently provide.
This has been an exceedingly challenging year for many of our Members, their customers and businesses and individuals across the country. As the MFDA has tried to both anticipate and respond to the changes and challenges of the past year, my fellow directors have demonstrated their extraordinary commitment and dedication to the goals and values of the MFDA. I wish to extend to all of them my deepest thanks. I would also like to acknowledge, in particular, Michael Stanley who stepped down from the Board at AGM 2020. The board always benefited from Michael’s sound and steady vision, practical experience, good judgment and unwavering diligence, and I would like to thank Michael, on behalf of all the members of the board, for his outstanding service. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Rick Annaert who joined the board as an Industry Director at AGM 2020 and who has made an exceptional contribution to the work of the Board this year.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge and thank MFDA Management and Staff for their continued tireless work and exceptional achievements in what has been a very difficult time. I have no doubt that the important work that you all do has been of great benefit to Canadian investors and that your contributions will continue to be crucial to the future success of the MFDA and the New SRO during what is truly an exciting and transformative time for Canadian securities regulation.
Christopher Nicholls, B.A., LL.B., LL.M., MPA
Chair of the Board