Canada: Canadian Securities Administrators Release Consultation Paper 91-407

On April 18, 2013, the Canadian Securities Administrators Derivatives Committee (the "Committee") released Consultation Paper 91-407 Derivatives: Registration ("Consultation Paper 91-407") [available here]. Consultation Paper 91-407 is part of a series of eight consultation papers that expand on the proposals for the regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives set out in Consultation Paper 91-401.

Consultation Paper 91-407 provides an overview of the Committee's proposal for the regulation of key derivatives market participants through the implementation of a registration regime and details recommendations on issues such as the activities that will trigger derivatives registration, the categories of derivatives registrants, the obligations of the derivatives registrants and proposed exemptions from registration.

Comment period for Consultation Paper 91-407 expires on June 17, 2013.

REGISTRATION CATEGORIES FOR DERIVATIVES MARKET PARTICIPANTS

Registration of Firms: The proposed registration regime has three distinct registration categories for firms.

Derivatives Dealer - entities or persons in the business of, or holding themselves out as being in the business of, trading derivatives.

Derivatives Adviser - entities or persons in the business of, or holding themselves out as being in the business of, advising others on derivatives.

Large Derivative Participants - entities, other than derivatives dealers, that have a substantial aggregate derivatives exposure.

The Consultation Paper 91-407 states that the registration as a LDP will not be subject to the same "business trigger" as dealers and advisers. Instead, a market participant will be required to register as an LDP where the entity is: (i) a Canadian resident entity that maintains a substantial position in a derivative or a category of derivatives; or (ii) a foreign resident entity that holds a substantial position in a derivative or category of derivatives with Canadian resident counterparties; and (iii) the entity's exposure in Canadian derivatives markets results in counter-party exposure that could pose a serious risk to Canadian financial markets or to the financial stability of Canada or a province of territory of Canada.

Registration of Individuals: In addition to the firm registration categories, the Committee recommends registration for the following:

  • the ultimate designated person, chief compliance officer or chief risk officer of the firm
  • individuals providing clients with advice relating to derivatives
  • individuals providing trading services to clients as an intermediary to a trade
  • individuals trading with a counterparty that is a "non-qualified party" that is not represented by an independent derivatives adviser.

The Committee recommends that individual registration requirements apply to both frontline staff that deal with clients and persons who manage or supervise such staff.

General registration requirements: The Committee further recommends that all derivatives registrants be subject to registration requirements and ongoing obligations, including:

  • proficiency requirements for all individuals who are directors, partners, officers, employees or agents of a derivatives registrant who are involved in trading in or advising on derivatives
  • financial requirements, including minimum capital, insurance and periodic financial reporting
  • margin requirements
  • maintenance of certain books and records
  • adequate compliance systems
  • obligation to act honestly and in good faith when trading in or advising on derivatives
  • obligations relating to the care of collateral posted by clients or counterparties.

In addition to the general registrant requirements above, derivatives dealers and derivatives advisers will also be subject to additional registration requirements, including know-your-client and suitability obligations, conflict of interest identification and management and fair dealing obligations.

SPECIFIC ISSUES AND CONCERNS FOR EXISTING SECURITIES REGISTRANTS

The Committee's recommendations mean that a person registered under securities legislation as a dealer or adviser who also trades or advises on derivatives will also be subject to the derivatives registration regime. For currently registered investment dealers and portfolio managers, much of Consultation Paper 91-407 will read substantially similar to the requirements that you already comply with under National Instrument 31-103 Registration Requirements, Exemptions and Ongoing Registrant Obligations and under IIROC rules - which may beg the question, why the need for a separate derivatives registration regime?

The Committee discusses what it sees as the uniqueness of derivatives as opposed to "securities" - that securities trading is typically for investment purposes and derivatives are typically contracts entered into for the transfer of risk and often involve leverage. However, the same distinctions are not present when comparing "exchange-traded futures contracts", which in many provinces are already regulated as "securities", and the "derivatives" discussed in the Consultation Paper. It is unclear whether or not Consultation Paper 91-407 is in fact the contemplated registration regime for all derivatives (including exchange-traded contracts) or limited to OTC derivatives. For those registrants that are currently trading in or advising on exchange-traded derivatives, they will have to pay close attention to the final scope of these rules.

For existing securities registrants that will be caught under the new derivatives registration regime, the following are a few of the unique registration requirements outlined in the Consultation Paper: - Chief Risk Officer. A new category of individual registration is proposed - the chief risk officer (the CRO) of a registrant. The CRO will be responsible for the development and ongoing operation of a risk management framework that can effectively identify, measure, monitor and manager derivatives-related risks. The Committee states that individuals acting as the Chief Compliance Officer and CRO be subject to proficiency requirements, but does not prescribe what those requirements shall be. - Need for an Independent Adviser to Advise

On Dealer Trades for Non-Qualified Parties. The Committee concludes that a conflict of interest exists where a derivatives dealer enters into a transaction with a counterparty that is a non-qualified party that relies on that derivatives dealer for direction or advice in relation to the trade. The Committee has put forth two proposals for addressing this conflict. The first alternative would preclude all derivatives dealers from entering into trades with counterparties that are non-qualified parties unless those counterparties receive advice from an independent registered derivatives adviser. The second alternative, which the Committee already indicates in the Consultation Paper may be an ineffective alternative, is that a derivatives dealer provide details of the conflict of interest in writing (and have the clients acknowledge receipt of the disclosure) and inform the counterparty that they have the right to obtain independent advice before entering into the transaction.

For investment fund managers, the Consultation Paper clearly states that investment fund managers should continue to be regulated under the securities registration regime regardless of the nature of the investment fund or the assets held by the fund. However, the Committee also notes that some investment funds may conduct derivatives trading activity that could trigger registration requirements as a derivatives dealer. The Committee understands that, under their proposal, investment funds will often rely on their investment fund managers to fulfill the fund's registration requirements; however, it confirms that the responsibility to meet registration requirements will remain with the fund.

FOREIGN DERIVATIVE PARTICIPANTS

Consultation Paper 91-407 states that persons in the business of trading or advising on derivatives in Canada that are resident outside of Canada will still be subject to an obligation to register and be required to comply with registration requirements, even if that dealer does not have an office or other place of business in Canada or if the activity was unsolicited.

Consultation Paper 91-407 discusses an exemption from specific regulatory requirements in Canada, but not from registration as a whole, where foreign participants are subject to equivalent regulatory requirements in their home jurisdictions.

EXEMPTIONS UNDER THE PROPOSED REGIME

No "de minimis" exemption recommended

Consultation Paper 91-407 does not provide an exemption from dealer registration - similar to that available under US regulation - for persons who engage in a "de minimis" quantity of derivatives dealing activity with or on behalf of customers. The Committee believes that participants in the derivatives market should be subject to the same protections regardless of the size or the total derivatives exposure of the dealer.

Two types of exemptions recommended

The Consultation Paper 91-407 describes two types of registration exemptions: (i) exemptions based on equivalent regulation; and (ii) exemptions from registrations generally (primarily for governments and clearing agencies).

As part of the first type of exemptions, Consultation Paper 91-407 provides for a potential exemption where participants are subject to regulation by other entities with regulatory responsibilities. On first blush, it appears that the Committee may contemplate a registration carve-out for existing securities registrants that are already in compliance with securities legislation and, therefore, substantially similar requirements as proposed in Consultation Paper 91-407. However, the reference in the paper is as follows: "The Committee recommends that Canadian securities regulators analyze existing regulatory regimes, including requirements, compliance monitoring and enforcement, imposed by other Canadian regulatory authorities to determine whether those regimes impose regulatory requirements that are, in their outcome, equivalent to those that would be implemented by securities regulatory authorities. The Committee further recommends that exemptions from registration requirements be adopted where equivalent regulatory regimes are in place".

While not explicitly articulated, we would presume that this exemption is primarily for financial institutions regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. The Committee notes throughout the Consultation Paper of its intention to not subject persons to redundant requirements. However, this concern seems to be focused only on financial institutions and foreign players - any redundancy of regulation for existing securities registrants is not noted as a concern or the basis for an exemption.

ONGOING CONCERNS WITH THE CURRENT DERIVATIVES PROPOSALS

While it is appreciated that the Committee has had a mammoth task in developing an OTC derivatives regulatory regime, there still remains very significant gaps - as evidenced by the substantial number of specific questions posed by the Committee in the Consultation Paper 91- 407 - in key principles that make it difficult as a commenter to discuss the overall impact of the proposals. For example, it remains unclear as to what types of "derivatives" will in fact trigger registration as a derivatives participant. The recently published CSA Staff Consultation Paper 91-301 provides certain recommendations on the types of instruments that will be considered derivatives, but this is for trade reporting purposes only. While we presume that this will be adopted more broadly, this is still not certain.

Consultation Paper 91-407 leaves a number of questions unanswered - it does not establish thresholds for registration as an LDP nor does it provide recommendations for minimum capital, margin or insurance requirements. In addition, the definition of "qualified parties" (and therefore "non-qualified parties") is left vague (primarily, a party with adequate resources to absorb losses from derivatives trades) with a specific definition to be established in future regulation.

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