The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) issued a statement and a new compliance bulletin in response to recent news reports related to allegations that certain employees of banks were pressured to upsell to consumers to meet unrealistic sales targets and keep their jobs.

FCAC compliance bulletin B-5 – consent for new products or services (the Bulletin) states that its purpose is to reinforce the FCAC’s expectations that federally regulated financial institutions (institutions) obtain consumers’ express consent for new products and services, in accordance with regulatory requirements.  The Bulletin reminds institutions of the following expectations and requirements:

  1. Any communication with consumers that forms part of the interaction for seeking express consent must be clear, simple and not misleading;
  2. The institution must clearly explain that it is requesting consent in any communication that is part of the process of obtaining express consent;
  3. Communications with consumers must be clear and must not mislead consumers to believe they are consenting to a promotion or reward; and
  4. Requirements and expectations apply equally if activities are outsourced and appropriate controls must be applied in connection with outsourced activities.

The FCAC expects institutions to do the following:

  •  ensure communication does not result in misleading consumers during the process of obtaining their express consent;
  • apply enhanced rigor in the processes and controls (monitoring, training and scripting) related to obtaining consumers’ express consent;
  • ensure that the act of obtaining express consent is compliant with regulatory requirements even if it is done by a service provider; and
  • review all disclosure to ensure it is consistent with the Cost of Borrowing Regulations under the Bank Act and with the FCAC’s CG-3 clear language guidance.

The FCAC has announced that it will examine institutions’ business practices and will investigate any incidences of non-compliance as part of its industry review.

The above expectations are not new; however, processes, controls and disclosures should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed.   Please contact us if your institution would like our assistance with reviews of processes, controls and disclosures to ensure that they satisfy regulatory requirements and FCAC expectations.