IIROC entertains broader relief for dealers

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) is the latest regulatory body preparing to give firms temporary relief in a range of areas as they respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a notice, the industry self-regulatory organization said its board approved exemptive relief in numerous areas where dealers may run into trouble complying with ordinary requirements due to social distancing and remote working.

Last week, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) published temporary blanket relief that provides issuers, investment funds, registered firms and other regulated entities an extra 45 days to make filings that would normally be required by June 1. IIROC’s list includes requirements for client signatures, where electronic signatures aren’t possible; regulatory filing deadlines; certain proficiency requirements; and pre-approval requirements for both advertising and trading pre-clearance (for reps under strict supervision, research and corporate finance staff).

It may also grant more time for trading desk reviews and branch office reviews;

exemptions from the requirements that auditors personally oversee physical securities counts; and exemptions from certain margin rule and anti-money laundering requirements.

“IIROC’s objective is to provide firms, where necessary, flexibility to service their clients with mitigating controls or processes to maintain investor protection in this challenging operational environment,” it said.

Dealers must apply in writing to secure the exemptions. The SRO said that it will handle these exemption requests “as expeditiously as possible and with fairness, consistency and transparency.” IIROC has deputized a number of senior executives to rule on exemption applications, and to set any conditions on the exemptions that they grant. This new authority is in effect for three months.

“Each exemption request item must directly/primarily relate to an issue the member has as a result of preparing or responding to the effects of Covid-19 on its operations — for example, having staff at different locations, work-from-home arrangements, or reduced staff due to illness,” the notice said.

Exemptions will initially be granted for six months and may be extended for another three months.

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