Useful information for registrants under the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services during the COVID-19 crisis
Latest update: April 15, 2020
The measures implemented by the Government of Québec This link will open in a new window to address the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has prompted many businesses to review their practices.
The government ordered all non-essential businesses and services to shut down from March 25 to April 13, 2020. Telework and on-line commerce is still allowed. Businesses providing services that are considered essential, as is the case of services related to the financial sector, can continue operating provided they comply with public health guidelines.
The Autorité des marchés financiers (the “AMF”), the Chambre de la sécurité financière This link will open in a new window (the “CSF”), the Chambre de l’assurance de dommages This link will open in a new window (la « ChAD ») and the Institut québécois de planification financière This link will open in a new window have consequently adopted appropriate measures to respond to the current situation, but remain fully operational using employees working remotely from home.
The purpose of this document is to inform registrants (i.e., firms, their representatives and employees; independent partnerships; and independent representatives) about the measures taken by the AMF to assist the industry during this time of instability. It is also being provided as a reference for the tools available and practices to be adopted to respond to the current situation while complying with regulatory requirements.
This document will be continually updated to take into account new developments and registrants’ questions.
- Notice specifically for insurance and financial planning representatives, firms, independent representatives and independent partnerships subject to the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services – COVID-19 (pdf - 20 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 15 April 2020
Accommodations and adjustments to the AMF's operations
Firms, independent partnerships and independent representatives
Renewal of certificates and maintenance of registration
The AMF is extending the deadlines by which representatives must renew their certificates and registrants must maintain their registrations.
Therefore, representatives, including independent representatives, with a certificate renewal deadline of March 31 will have until May 31 to renew their certificates. Representatives with an April 30 deadline will have until June 30 to do so.
All firms and independent partnerships with a maintenance of registration deadline of May 1 will have until September 1 to maintain their registrations. The AMF reminds registrants that they must maintain liability insurance in force and send a copy of the coverage to the AMF.
Attachment of representative applications (pdf - 196 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 1st May 2020 submitted by registrants are still being processed; however, expect longer-than-usual delays. The AMF reminds registrants that representatives may not act until the AMF has confirmed their attachment to the firm.
Qualification of registrants in damage insurance
The time period for submitting the qualification form is over. Registrants that have not yet submitted a damage insurance qualification form are asked to do so as soon as possible or to contact the Information Centre with any issues they may have.
Disclosing a new establishment
The residences of representatives and employees who are working remotely from home, whether on an exceptional basis or otherwise, do not have to be declared as new establishments.
Sending documents to the AMF
AMF E-Services is fully operational and still the best way to submit any applications related to registrants’ activities and the forms required to process them. Additional delays may occur in processing documents received by mail.
For registrants without access to E-Services, the AMF will, exceptionally, accept copies of signed documents that are sent by e-mail instead of mail. If copies are sent by e-mail, the originals should be retained as a precaution. The AMF also reminds you that the payment information must the sent by mail and not by e-mail.
As a temporary measure, documents that, under normal conditions, are required to be signed by both a representative and his or her responsible officer or supervisor may, exceptionally, be replaced by an e-mail from the responsible officer or supervisor confirming his or her agreement and knowledge of the situation for which the application is being submitted.
Electronic signatures are not prohibited under the AMF framework. Registrants must, however, ensure that the insurer’s internal guidelines permit their use. Moreover, the use of electronic signatures must comply with the rules set out in the Civil Code of Québec and the Act to establish a legal framework for information technology This link will open in a new window.
Inspection activities are being maintained remotely. The AMF will show flexibility and tailor its interventions to the current context.
Extensions may be granted for the submission of documents or comments in order to support firms in achieving their priority objective of implementing their business continuity plans.
You can contact the inspector assigned to your file if you require any information.
Investigations by the ChAD and CSF syndics in matters of professional conduct
Investigations in matters of professional conduct are continuing. As under normal conditions, the AMF, the ChAD and the CSF are working together and holding timely discussions on files.
Challenges for registrants during the COVID-19 crisis
In the current climate of uncertainty, it is essential for clients to be able to get explanations about their situation when they express the need for them. For many registrants, business continuity involves having their employees and representatives work remotely from home, which has its own share of challenges in terms of supervision.
Registrants’ compliance obligations remain unchanged, despite these more difficult times. Supervisory tasks can, however, be performed remotely—something that demands greater vigilance, particularly in identifying clients and detecting and monitoring any unusual transactions.
Regulatory and ethical obligations
Despite the exceptional situation that is unfolding, representatives must continue to fulfill their regulatory and ethical obligations.
Representatives are asked to refer to the communications prepared by the CSF and the ChAD for answers to the questions most frequently asked by representatives regarding COVID-19.
The AMF reminds firms and representatives that in order to avoid placing themselves in a situation of conflict of interest, under no circumstances are they to pay an insurance premium on behalf of a client or lend clients money in order to pay an insurance premium. Any change in the payment of an insurance premium must be agreed upon with the insurer.
Representative acting on behalf of a firm
Registrants are reminded that only representatives that hold a certificate in the appropriate sector may act in respect of a firm’s clients. This has not changed, despite the current situation.
To learn about the activities that are specific to representatives, see the Notice regarding information collection and insurance advice.
Registrants must ensure that their representatives and employees refrain from pursuing their activities in conditions likely to adversely affect service quality and that they comply with the established rules governing the confidentiality of information.
In a telework situation, steps must be taken to ensure that personal or confidential information is not accessible to third parties (the platform or storage software must be locked when not in use, for example). A recap of the registrant’s policies on this subject is recommended.
Representatives and firms, as well as their clients, are more likely than usual to fall victim to phishing and other such activities. Heightened vigilance should be exercised in the face of cyber threats.
The AMF website, especially the Firms and representatives section, contains a plethora of information to help guide you in your practice.
See the AMF's news related to the COVID-19:
- COVID-19: information you need to know about travel insurance and investment
- COVID-19: AMF maintains its market oversight and consumer protection activities
The following documents have been published specifically to help you in the context of COVID-19:
- Info-conformité This link will open in a new window on firm business continuity plans – Covid-19 pandemic. Also see the model proposed by the ChAD This link will open in a new window (both of these documents are available in French only)
- Reminder published by the ChAD regarding its members’ obligations: Pandémie Corona virus -Conseils pour bien respecter vos obligations professionnelles This link will open in a new window (in French only).
- Q&A published by the CSF This link will open in a new window for its members (in French only)
- List of priority services This link will open in a new window
The AMF also reminds you that there are guides available to assist you in your practice:
Registrant Governance and Compliance Guide under the Act respecting the distribution of financial products and services (pdf - 5 MB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 1st October 2020Registrant Governance and Compliance Guide. This guide describes the AMFs expectations and good practices with respect to governance and compliance and explains them in plain language.
Protecting vulnerable clients – a practical guide for the financial services industry. (pdf - 688 KB)This link will open in a new windowUpdated on 3 June 2019A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, PROTECTING VULNERABLE CLIENTS