Garry Heath takes reform agenda to Canada

Industry stalwart Garry Heath has taken his report – on the effect of RDR on advisers and their clients – to Canada, to help the adviser industry tackle the country’s regulatory proposals.

The former director general of the IFA Association (1989-1999), the precursor to Apfa, addressed the symposium of Advocis, the country’s membership organisation for advisers, in Toronto on 5 November.

Mr Heath took part in a panel that looked at the reforms foreign jurisdictions have undertaken to professionalise their advisory sector, with a critical look at the results to date.

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He said: “RDR started with Australia, who infected the Brits, and the Brits infected the Canadians, but bizarrely the Australians have got away from RDR.”

He offered his take on how to approach RDR, and increasing powers of the regulator in the UK, warning: “Canadian advisers must ensure it has a well-funded, well-run association capable of representing all elements of the sector to politicians and the media.

“It must attempt to lead public perception, not react to it, and also create a good compensation mechanism entrenched in civil law.”

More than 400 industry people had been scheduled to attend the one-day symposium, which sold out within a week.

Mr Heath met Canadian media and politicians, and travelled to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, on a trip funded by Advocis, which is concerned about the potential effect of proposed legislation similar to that in the UK. The Canadian regulator is considering implementing ‘game-changing’ proposals that would radically alter the provision of financial advice. Proposals include a statutory fiduciary duty and the banning of commissions.

Industry view

Speaking in April about the bill to professionalise financial advice, Greg Pollock, president and chief executive of Advocis, said: “Other than in Quebec, anyone in the country can call themselves either a financial adviser or a financial planner. The regulatory focus has really just been on the sale of product and not holistic advice that so many Canadians are seeking today.

“So from our perspective, it really makes sense to bring everything under one umbrella to offer a one-stop solution for consumers and for clients.”