Our demographic is aging in large numbers. The Ontario government has projected that one in four Ontarians will be aged 65 years or older by 2041. We are also living longer thanks to healthier lifestyles and medical advancements. Though, as we age, we become more susceptible to physical and cognitive limitations. These limitations may impact our ability to make financial decisions and leave us more susceptible to financial exploitation and fraud.
On March 20, 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published the Senior Strategy to respond to the needs and priorities of seniors in Ontario. The Senior Strategy outlines various initiatives that the OSC is pursuing to regulate registered firms and their representatives to better protect senior investors from financial exploitation and fraud.
Below is a summary of the key issues of the OSC’s Senior Strategy:
1) Address issues of financial exploitation and cognitive impairment among senior investors by:
- Requiring that registered firms and their representatives make reasonable efforts to obtain the name and contact information for a client’s “trusted contact person”;
- Enable registered firms and their representatives 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; or
- Have a reasonable belief that a client’s judgment may be impaired.
2) Guide registered firms and their representatives on how to engage with senior investors, such as collecting sufficient information about client accounts.
3) Addressing the use of confusing and misleading titles, designations, and marketing practices by registered firms and their representatives.
4) Designing policies and programs that serve the interests of older individuals in areas such as powers of attorney and privacy laws.
The OSC will provide an update as to its progress in implementing these industry changes within one year’s time. Over this period, the OSC expects that registered firms and their representatives will review and develop ways to improve their own practices with respect to senior investors.