February 28, 2002
For Immediate Release

Securities Regulators Propose New Framework for the Regulation of Mutual Funds

Toronto - Securities regulators are seeking public comment on a proposal that would reshape mutual fund regulation in Canada by establishing a comprehensive system to better protect investors while still responding to the needs of the $427 billion mutual fund industry.

A concept proposal on a new framework for regulating the mutual fund industry will be published for comment on March 1, 2002 by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), an umbrella group representing the thirteen provincial and territorial securities regulators, following extensive research and industry consultations.

The proposal represents a forward-looking solution to the potential conflicts of interest inherent in most mutual fund structures, said Rebecca Cowdery, Chair of the CSA staff working group responsible for drafting the proposal. This is not about layering new regulation on top of old. It is a seamless package that offers fund managers the flexibility of operating within a broader set of regulatory principles, rather than conforming to detailed, prescriptive rules and wide-ranging prohibitions.

The centrepiece of the new framework is a requirement for mutual funds to establish a governance agency to oversee the actions of the mutual fund manager.Composed of three or more individuals, a majority of whom are independent of the fund manager, the governance agency would owe its allegiance to investors and would be responsible for ensuring that the fund manager acts in the best interests of investors.

Most Canadian mutual fund investors currently have neither the resources nor the inclination to effectively oversee fund managers.For this reason, the market is increasingly demanding independent oversight, said Cowdery.A number of Canadian mutual funds have already instituted fund governance systems, but the practice is voluntary and there are no consistent industry-wide standards.Canada is one of the only developed countries that does not mandate some form of independent mutual fund governance.

Other elements of the proposed framework include the following:

  •  the creation of a new registration category for mutual fund managers, with minimum standards imposed through conditions of registration that are tailored to the business of managing mutual funds;
  • streamlined product regulation for mutual funds, with detailed restrictions replaced by broader principles or guidelines, and compliance monitored by the governance agency;
  • a review of investor rights, and the continuation of existing disclosure requirements; and
  • an enhanced regulatory presence, including increased on-site compliance examinations and desk reviews expanded beyond the prospectus to continuous disclosure and sales communication documents.

The CSA concept proposal raises questions on the proposed framework and on some possible alternative approaches to regulation of mutual funds.CSA members will accept public comments on the proposal until June 7, 2002.

The concept proposal, titled Striking a New Balance: A Framework for Regulating Mutual Funds and their Managers, will be available on the British Columbia Securities Commission website at www.bcsc.bc.ca, the Alberta Securities Commission website at www.albertasecurities.com, the Manitoba Securities Commission website at www.msc.gov.mb.ca, the Ontario Securities Commission website at www.osc.gov.on.ca, and the Commission des valeurs mobilires du Qubec website at www.cvmq.com.

For more information:

Rebecca Cowdery
Manager, Investment Funds Regulatory Reform
Ontario Securities Commission

YuMee Chung
Legal Counsel, Investment Funds Regulatory Reform
Ontario Securities Commission

Media contacts:

Andrew Poon
British Columbia Securities Commission
1-800-373-6393 (B.C. & Alberta only)

Joni Delaurier
Alberta Securities Commission

Ainsley Cunningham
Manitoba Securities Commission

Frank Switzer
Ontario Securities Commission

Denis Dub
Commission des valeurs mobilires du Qubec
514-940-2199 ext. 4441
1-800-361-5072 (Quebec only)