Saturday, 30 April 2016

Canadian Securities Administrators Ignore Rule #1 about Rules

What's rule #1? A rule is not a rule unless it's enforced. Any two year old knows that if the parents say to do or not do something, unless there is a sanction that is actually applied, you can behave as you want. And that's what kids do. The rule doesn't actually exist in any practical sense.

The CSA is exactly in that situation as the "parent", supposedly regulating financial firms and their employees dealing with the public, getting them to behave honestly and responsibly towards the public. The Small Investor Protection Association recently released a shocking and dispiriting report Unpaid Fines: a National Disgrace, which details the almost non-existent collection of fines imposed on financial miscreants in recent years. As the report says, this abysmal performance undermines the whole system of regulation. Investors will lose confidence. The financial industry will not feel deterred against misdeeds.

Such utter neglect of the CSA's mandate is especially annoying in the light of its recent excellent proposal to institute a best interest standard (as opposed to the weak suitability standard now in force) for financial advice on the investment industry. That proposal, even if implemented, won't have much real beneficial effect unless enforcement takes place. It's high time for the CSA to start doing its job properly. Just ask any parent.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Visitors to Canada Beware - You might need a "not-a-visa" eTA

Formerly, Brits, like my wife, travelling to Canada for a visit needed only their passport and no visa. That has changed, as from March 15, 2016 (with an interim grace period till the fall of this year) she and other foreign nationals, except US citizens, will need an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada by air. The eTA is not formally a visa but it sure feels like one to my wife, since after the grace period, without it you don't get to board the plane.

Some key things facts I discovered digging through the website and phoning a Canadian consulate:
  • you can apply in advance, even before you make a booking or plan a trip
  • the eTA is good for five years, but ...
  • if you need to renew your passport before then, you need to buy ($7 now) a new eTA because the eTA is linked to your passport number
  • the eTA is stored in the Canadian government's vast databases so that you do not need any piece of paper to prove you bought one (of course, it's gonna be your problem if you say you bought one and may even have the printout but for some reason the database says no, you don't)
  • it supposedly takes "minutes" to apply online and receive an email confirmation i.e. make sure you know where your airport internet access is or your phone has access just in case
Welcome to the new world of travel to Canada!

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