National Policy 11-203 Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions -- Investment fund manager granted exemption from subsection 5.1(a) of NI 81-105 to allow it to pay to a participating dealer direct costs incurred by the participating dealer relating to a sales communication, investor conference or investor seminar prepared or presented by the participating dealer which has a primary purpose of providing educational information on financial planning matters.
Applicable Legislative Provisions
National Instrument 81-105 Mutual Fund Sales Practices, ss. 5.1(a), 9.1.
November 24, 2015
IN THE MATTER OF THE SECURITIES LEGISLATION OF ONTARIO (the Jurisdiction) AND IN THE MATTER OF THE PROCESS FOR EXEMPTIVE RELIEF APPLICATIONS IN MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS AND IN THE MATTER OF SUN LIFE GLOBAL INVESTMENTS (CANADA) INC. (the Filer)
The principal regulator in the Jurisdiction has received an application from the Filer for a decision under the securities legislation of the Jurisdiction of the principal regulator (the Legislation) for relief from subsection 5.1(a) of National Instrument 81-105 Mutual Fund Sales Practices (NI 81-105) to permit the Filer to pay to a participating dealer direct costs incurred by the participating dealer relating to a sales communication, investor conference or investor seminar prepared or presented by the participating dealer (collectively, the Cooperative Marketing Initiatives and each a Cooperative Marketing Initiative) if the primary purpose of the Cooperative Marketing Initiative is to promote, or provide educational information concerning investment, retirement, tax and estate planning (collectively, Financial Planning) matters (the Exemption Sought).
Under the Process for Exemptive Relief Applications in Multiple Jurisdictions (for a passport application):
(a) the Ontario Securities Commission is the principal regulator for this application; and
(b) the Filer has provided notice that section 4.7(1) of Multilateral Instrument 11-102 Passport System (MI 11-102) is intended to be relied upon in each of the other provinces and territories of Canada (together with Ontario, the Jurisdictions).
Terms defined in National Instrument 14-101 Definitions, MI 11-102 or NI 81-105 have the same meaning if used in this decision, unless otherwise defined.
This decision is based on the following facts represented by the Filer:
1. The Filer is a corporation incorporated under the laws of Ontario with its head office based in Toronto, Ontario.
2. The Filer is registered as an investment fund manager in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, a mutual fund dealer in each of the Jurisdictions, and a commodity trading manager and portfolio manager in Ontario.
3. The Filer is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF), a company with shares listed on, among others, the Toronto Stock Exchange.
4. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (SLA) is an insurance company authorized to carry on business under the Insurance Companies Act (Canada) and regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SLF.
5. The Filer is the manager of the Sun Life Global Investments mutual funds (the Funds), which are retail mutual funds, the securities of which are qualified for distribution to investors in each of the Jurisdictions pursuant to various simplified prospectuses, as they may be amended or renewed from time to time.
6. Securities of the Funds are distributed by participating dealers in the Jurisdictions.
7. Each of the Filer, SLA and SLF is a "member of the organization" (as that term is defined in NI 81-105) of the Funds, as the Filer is the manager of the Funds and SLA and SLF are affiliates of the Filer.
8. The Filer complies with NI 81-105, and in particular Part 5 of NI 81-105, in respect of its marketing and educational practices.
9. The Filer is not in default of securities legislation in any of the Jurisdictions.
10. Under Subsection 5.1(a) of NI 81-105, the Filer is permitted to pay direct costs incurred by a participating dealer where the purpose of the Cooperative Marketing Initiative is to promote or provide educational information about the Funds, the mutual fund family of which the Funds are members, or mutual funds generally.
11. Subsection 5.1(a) of NI 81-105 prohibits the Filer from paying direct costs incurred by a participating dealer relating to a Cooperative Marketing Initiative where the primary purpose is to provide educational information about Financial Planning matters. Consequently, the Filer is not permitted to sponsor the cost of sales communications, investor seminars or investor conferences prepared or presented by participating dealers where the main topics discussed include investment planning, retirement planning, tax planning and estate planning, each of which are aspects of Financial Planning.
12. The Filer and its affiliates have expertise in Financial Planning matters or may retain others with such expertise.
13. In addition to the topics currently permitted under subsection 5.1(a) of NI 81-105, the Filer wishes to sponsor Cooperative Marketing Initiatives where the primary purpose of the Cooperative Marketing Initiatives is to provide educational information concerning Financial Planning matters. The Filer will comply with Subsections 5.1(b) to (e) of NI 81-105 in respect of such Cooperative Marketing Initiatives it sponsors.
14. Mutual funds, including the Funds managed by the Filer, can be used to meet a variety of financial goals and accordingly are regularly used as financial planning tools. The Filer's sponsorship of Cooperative Marketing Initiatives where the primary purpose is to provide educational information about Financial Planning matters may benefit investors, as it may facilitate and potentially increase investors' access to educational information on such matters, which may in turn better equip them to make financial decisions that involve mutual funds.
15. Under Sections 5.2 and 5.5 of NI 81-105, the Filer is permitted to sponsor the costs incurred by participating dealers in attending or organizing and presenting at conferences where the primary purpose is the provision of educational information on, among other things, financial planning.
16. Specifically, under subsection 5.2(a) of NI-81-105, the Filer is permitted to provide a non-monetary benefit to a representative of a participating dealer by allowing him or her to attend a conference or seminar organized and presented by the Filer where the primary purpose is the provision of educational information about, among other things, financial planning, investing in securities or mutual fund industry matters.
17. Similarly, under subsection 5.5(a) of NI 81-105, the Filer is permitted to pay to a participating dealer part of the direct costs the participating dealer incurs in organizing or presenting at a conference or seminar that is not an investor conference or investor seminar referred to in section 5.1, where the primary purpose is the provision of educational information about, among other things, financial planning, investing in securities or mutual fund industry matters.
18. The Filer will not require participating dealers to sell any of its Funds or other financial products to investors as a condition of the Filer's sponsorship of a Cooperative Marketing Initiative.
19. The Filer will pay for its sponsorship of a Cooperative Marketing Initiative out of its normal sources of revenue. Accordingly, the sponsorship cost will not be borne by the Funds.
The principal regulator is satisfied that the decision meets the test set out in the Legislation for the principal regulator to make the decision.
The decision of the principal regulator under the Legislation is that the Exemption Sought is granted, provided that in respect of a Cooperative Marketing Initiative whose primary purpose is to provide educational information concerning Financial Planning matters:
(a) the Filer otherwise complies with the requirements of subsections 5.1(b) through (e) of NI 81-105;
(b) the Filer does not require any participating dealer to sell any of the Funds or other financial products to investors;
(c) other than as permitted by NI 81-105, the Filer does not provide participating dealers and their representatives with any financial or other incentives for recommending any of its Funds to investors;
(d) the materials presented in a Cooperative Marketing Initiative concerning Financial Planning matters contain only general educational information about such matters;
(e) the Filer prepares or approves the content of the general educational information about Financial Planning matters presented in a Cooperative Marketing Initiative it sponsors and selects or approves an appropriately-qualified speaker for each presentation about such matters delivered in a Cooperative Marketing Initiative;
(f) any general educational information about Financial Planning matters presented in a Cooperative Marketing Initiative contains an express statement that the content presented is for information purposes only, and is not providing advice to the attendees of the investor conference or investor seminar or the recipients of the sales communication, as applicable; and
(g) any general educational information about Financial Planning matters presented in a Cooperative Marketing Initiative contains an indication of the types of professionals who may generally be qualified to provide advice on the subject matter of the information presented.