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Message from the Chair
For the last three years, I have had the honour of acting as the Chair of FSCO and the Financial Services Tribunal (FST). FSCO exists as an independent regulator to enforce legislation, protect public interests and support a strong financial services industry. The FST, as an independent quasi-judicial adjudicative body, exercises the powers conferred under the FSCO Act and other acts to determine all questions of fact or law that arise in any proceeding before it that challenge decisions or intended decisions of the Superintendent or the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO). Both parts of the organization have faced significant challenges.
The financial services sector is rapidly evolving as globalization, technology and innovation add complexity and risk. As Chair, I have worked closely with FSCO’s CEO/Superintendent and senior staff to set strategic goals, review and approve its annual statement of priorities, business plans, annual report and financial reports, and monitor the performance of FSCO and the FST to ensure the provision of high-quality services to the public in carrying out our mandate.
During my time as Chair, the four-member Commission has strengthened its oversight of operations and reporting. This oversight included a great deal of consultation and advice given to the Expert Advisory Panel charged in 2015-16 with reviewing the mandates of FSCO, the FST and DICO to modernize the regulation of financial services and pension plans in Ontario. This review led the provincial government to create the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) in the fall of 2016, which, in time, will succeed FSCO. Until that transition is implemented, FSCO remains focused on its mandate to protect consumer and pension plan beneficiaries and enhance public confidence in the sectors we regulate. The CEO’s message highlights some of FSCO’s accomplishments in the last year, and I applaud those successes.
The mandate of the FST has changed radically over time, from that of a primarily pension adjudicator to one that now spends the majority of its time adjudicating compliance matters arising under the Insurance Act and Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act. Hearings have more recently expanded to include matters relating to complex syndicated mortgage investments and mortgage lending practices akin to fraud. Consequently, the FST’s membership continues to broaden its expertise and I have been very active in recruitment. Formal in-house training, updated forms, policies and procedures, and expanded rules have also continued to evolve to keep up with the changes to our workload. Our clear and strong decisions help the industry better understand its commitments to consumers and pension plan beneficiaries.
The continued success of this organization and its successor will depend upon rapid implementation of FSRA and the separation of the role of Chair of FSCO from that of Chair of the FST. It will not be possible without the hard work and continued commitment of the highly skilled and professional staff of FSCO and the FST members, to all of whom I extend my sincere thanks.
– Florence A. Holden
Message from the CEO
Every day, families and businesses across Ontario rely on people and companies that provide financial services to help them manage risk, protect their assets, and save for the future. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) regulates and oversees those entities, driven by a clear mandate – to protect consumers and enhance public confidence in the sectors we regulate.
Consumers and pension plan beneficiaries are at the centre of everything we do. We undertake licensing, market conduct oversight and enforcement activities for nearly 91,000 individuals and entities in the eight financial services sectors – all in the name of ensuring their stability and safeguarding the public interest.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
2016-17 was a significant year for FSCO. We facilitated product and service innovation, implemented reforms, and expanded consumer education, all during a period of disruption in the regulatory environment.
In the fall of 2016, the provincial government passed legislation to create and establish the initial parameters of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) – a new, independent and flexible regulator with a stronger focus on protecting consumers, investors and pension plan beneficiaries.
Implementing FSRA is a complex effort that will take time. In the meantime, FSCO remains the financial services regulator in Ontario, and we continue to focus on serving the public interest while strengthening our adaptability.
Changing technologies and consumer needs have created exciting opportunities for product and service delivery innovations in the financial services sector. As a regulator, FSCO must balance moving quickly to support innovation with taking the required time to ensure consumer interests are protected.
FSCO worked with industry and the Ontario government to facilitate insurance coverage for ridesharing vehicles, approving interim insurance policies to close existing gaps and protect drivers, passengers and vehicle owners. We also established a working group to help identify and support innovative financial technology (FinTech) companies operating in our regulated sectors. In the pension sector, we collaborated with key stakeholders to complete the transfer of a single employer pension plan to a jointly sponsored pension plan – a first in Ontario.
We continued our work to support the implementation of significant changes to auto insurance, making sure the industry and Ontario drivers were aware and understood how these reforms would affect auto insurance policies.
This year also marked FSCO’s first major consumer outreach initiatives focused on building financial literacy and educating consumers about fraud prevention. In November 2016, we launched a campaign supporting Financial Literacy Month, sharing information with first-time millennial homebuyers about how best to plan, save, shop and pay for a mortgage. Our March 2017 Fraud Prevention Month campaign raised awareness among people likely to commit fraud and their victims about how to recognize, reject and report auto insurance fraud. Through these campaigns, we equipped Ontarians with information to help them make informed financial decisions and protect themselves.
Enhancing relationships, communication and coordination among financial services regulators at the national level also remained a priority for FSCO in 2016-17. Integration and information sharing are crucial to successful financial services oversight, where jurisdictional and virtual boundaries are blurring.
We led and supported major national regulatory initiatives over the year through our membership in national organizations representing regulators. Examples include the development and launch of a new Annual Statement on Market Conduct through the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators; the launch of the Mortgage Broker Regulators’ Council of Canada’s new online database of disciplinary actions taken against brokers; and the development of the 2016 Agreement Respecting Multijurisdictional Pension Plans through the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities.
Despite the uncertainty brought about by the plans to establish FSRA, FSCO staff remained focused on these and many other achievements. I am proud of what we accomplished this year, and am grateful for their continued commitment, creativity, and passion to deliver results that make a difference to Ontarians.
– Brian Mills
FSCO BY THE NUMBERS: 2016-2017
90,857 Regulated entities
290 Enforcement actions
$524,742 In Administrative Monetary Penalties imposed
14.8% Decrease in expenditures
1,143,009 Unique visitors to FSCO's website
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