Canadian Underwriter

RIBO 99 AGM: Broker ownership Rulings Should Be Changed

December 1, 1999   by Sean van Zyl, Editor

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The issues of broker sole occupation and the current restrictions applying to brokerage ownership will likely be among the top priorities on the Registered Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario’s (RIBO) 2000 agenda with regard to regulatory changes currently under discussion with Ontario’s insurance regulator. Both items have been move ahead on the priority scale by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) in terms of the proposals contained in its reform discussion paper released last year, says Lorie Guthrie Phair, past president of RIBO at the association’s recent 1999 annual general meeting.

In her concluding speech as president of RIBO, Guthrie Phair says FSCO is also currently in the process of putting together a discussion paper on “inducements” which will be released to the industry shortly. This, plus the sole occupation and ownership debates, will likely receive highest consideration in next year’s provincial regulatory discussions, she predicts. “FSCO has decided to fast track proposals for two main issues: sole occupation and ownership, and working groups will be established.”

Guthrie Phair notes, however, that through RIBO forum meetings with broker organizations in the province, the association has already gained a general view on the issues of sole occupation and ownership. The forums reveal a strong desire from within the brokerage community to have the current ownership rulings changed, while many were in favor of retaining sole occupation. “On sole occupation, the general consensus was that insurance brokers should be able to sell financial products. However, if the sole occupation requirement is removed altogether, there was concern raised that there could be a conflict of interest and undue influence placed on the consumer. On the topic of removing ownership requirements, the general feeling among brokers was that current requirements should be removed — provided that the principal broker be responsible for all RIBO requirements.” And, in that respect, Guthrie Phair encourages brokers to partake in RIBO’s discussion forums, these opportunities providing excellent vehicles for feedback to and from the industry on regulatory issues. As such, she says a full summary of forum discussions will be posted in the fall edition of the association’s Bulletin and also made available on its Internet site.

The year past

“It has certainly been an exciting and eventful year, filled with interesting challenges, information sharing and reflection as we continue to reevaluate the roles and responsibilities of the independent insurance broker,” Guthrie Phair says in the opening remarks of her AGM speech.

Although the year was absent of any crises, allowing RIBO to achieve a surplus on its budget, it is essential that the association remains on top of industry issues at both the provincial and national regulatory levels, she adds. And, with discussions ongoing with FSCO on its reform proposals, RIBO has also met with other provincial regulators with a view to establishing common standards for broker skills. This project is ongoing, she remarks. In addition to which, Guthrie Phair says the association has received positive feedback from across Ontario on its new continuing education summary. “Distributed twice a year, this publication lists the majority of accredited courses in Ontario. Please continue to let us know what you think of the courses you attend.”

And, still on the communication front, Guthrie Phair points out that RIBO’s Internet site has been fully redesigned, and is now operational. “It’s [the web site] now much more user friendly. A broker’s registration can be easily checked on the online database.”

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