What role does FAIR Canada play in the existing regulatory process?
The provincial securities commissions have a statutory mandate to protect investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices and to foster fair and efficient capital markets. They are required to balance the interests of all stakeholders. In the process of developing policy and priorities, the commissions have the benefit of sophisticated input from listed issuers and financial institutions and their legal and other advisors. However, regulators have limited input from investors, particularly retail investors.
Traditionally the process for developing public policy and priorities has lacked balance as investors have been woefully underrepresented. For example, when the CSA or SROs issue requests for comments on proposals for regulatory reform, they generally receive written submissions from the different stakeholders in the financial markets. Professional written submissions advocating the interests of retail investors have been lacking. FAIR Canada provides a sophisticated, objective and balanced voice for Canadian investors on a national basis.
What distinguishes FAIR Canada from existing shareholder rights organizations such as the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance?
The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (“CCGG”)is an organization that represents Canadian institutional shareholders. The mission of CCGG is to represent institutional investors through the promotion of best corporate governance practices and to align the interests of boards and management with those of the shareholder. CCGG is essentially a committee of approximately 50 institutional investors who are its members.
While CCGG focuses on corporate governance issues, FAIR Canada takes a broader view and will comment on any capital markets issues of importance to retail investors. Thus, FAIR Canada and CCGG both strive to advance shareholder rights in Canada while pursuing complementary roles.
What distinguishes FAIR Canada from existing investor and consumer rights advocates and organizations?
There are several retail investor and consumer rights advocates and organizations in Canada. Organizations such as the Small Investors Protection Association (“SIPA”) and the Consumer Council of Canada (“CCC”) have worked valiantly to advance the interests of retail investors. However, with scarce resources and lacking full-time staff, those investor and consumer rights organizations do not have the ability to effectively represent the interests of retail investors in all aspects of securities regulation. Furthermore, those organizations tend to be focused on the relationship between investors and the financial industry whereas FAIR Canada addresses all investor issues in securities regulation including issues related to listed issuers and shareholder rights generally. Since its inception in 2008, FAIR Canada has sought to create and strengthen its alliances with investor and shareholder rights groups across the country. FAIR Canada believes that building and strengthening its relationships with other investor organizations forms a vital part of its role as a national investor protection organization. FAIR Canada has worked with CCGG, SIPA, the Québec Coalition for the Protection of Investors and FADOQ (the Québec Federation of Senior Citizens). FAIR Canada has also reached out to the Common Front for Retirement Security, the Toronto Chartered Financial Analysts Society and its U.S. parent, the CFA Institute, as well as MEDAC in Québec. FAIR Canada also meets with the OSC’s Investor Advisory Panel to discuss initiatives, exchange ideas, and identify the potential for future collaboration.
What is FAIR Canada’s educational role?
FAIR Canada focuses its educational efforts on informing the public, governments and regulators of the investor perspective on matters relating to capital markets. This includes publishing research and hosting conferences and symposia. FAIR Canada does not seek to duplicate the more general educational role played by Canadian securities regulators, the securities regulator’s investor education entities or investor education initiatives of other organizations.
What activities are not part of FAIR Canada’s mandate?
We do not advise individual investors on specific cases. We do not litigate or become involved in class action lawsuits though we may file “amicus” briefs where a court or regulator may benefit from hearing an investor perspective on issues in a trial or administrative hearing. We do not engage in partisan political activities.