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Paige Ward

General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Vice President, Policy

(416) 943-5838

MSN - 0016

Jan 23, 2003

(Updated Jun 8, 2020)

Electronic Signatures

MFDA Staff Notices are intended to assist Members and their Approved Persons in the interpretation, application of and compliance with requirements under MFDA By-laws and Rules. Notices make reference to these requirements and set out MFDA staff's interpretation of how to comply with these requirements. Notices may also include best practices or guidance.

This Notice provides guidance regarding Members’ use of electronic signatures.

MFDA Rules – Signature Requirements

MFDA Rules, Policies and Forms require Members to obtain various signed documents. The MFDA permits the use of an electronic signature on an electronic document where a signed document is required by MFDA Rules, Policies and Forms.

Each Member may choose the kind of signature and document (e.g. an electronic signature on an electronic document, or a wet ink signature on a paper document) that the Member will accept and use to satisfy the requirements of MFDA Rules, Policies and Forms.

Other Legal Requirements

Federal, provincial and territorial laws (including electronic commerce legislation) may prohibit, permit or specify requirements for the legally valid use of electronic documents and electronic signatures to satisfy legal requirements that a document or information be “in writing” and “signed”, or to satisfy other formalities (e.g. delivered, retained, witnessed or sealed) required by law. Members should be mindful of all applicable laws governing the use of electronic signatures and electronic documents.

Electronic Signature Technologies and Record Retention Systems

Members should exercise due diligence, and obtain appropriate technical and legal advice, when selecting and implementing electronic signature technologies and record retention systems, so that:

  • the electronic signature process provides appropriate protection for the confidentiality and security of the electronic documents;
  • the resulting electronically signed documents and related artifacts (e.g. emails and audit trails) provide acceptable assurances of authenticity, integrity and reliability to help mitigate risks of fraud and repudiation; and
  • the electronically signed documents are retained in a secure and reliable record retention system for an appropriate period, and are capable of being retrieved for future use (including for regulatory investigations or as evidence in legal proceedings).

Members may wish to consider the Fund Industry Guidelines for Electronic Signatures, issued by Fundserv to facilitate a standardized approach to electronic signature use and acceptability for Fundserv members.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

The use of electronic signatures might present security and privacy risks. Members should consider the guidance in MFDA Bulletin #0690-C (Cybersecurity) and comply with all applicable federal and provincial personal information protection laws (e.g. the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and similar provincial statutes in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec).

Policies and Procedures

In accordance with MFDA Rule 2.10 (Policies and Procedures Manual), Members must establish and maintain written policies and procedures for dealing with clients and ensuring compliance with the Rules, By-laws and Policies of the Corporation and applicable securities legislation. Where Members use electronic signatures to comply with MFDA Rules, they must have policies and procedures regarding the acceptance and use of electronic signatures to ensure a consistent application of electronic signature policies among all types of clients and accounts.