Dear Members,

As indicated by the Gouvernment du Québec, your services are essential. As such, you may continue to meet with your clients physically, provided you adhere strictly to official safety and distancing instructions. Under the circumstances, however, physical meetings must be the exception: you must prioritize working remotely. The CSF is committed to providing you with its full support so that you can conduct your professional activities under the best possible conditions.

Please note that this FAQ will be updated regularly, so we invite you to come back frequently.

Wearing a mask

During meetings in the clients' homes:

When people are 1 m apart, wearing a mask or face covering is strongly recommended for people who do not have adequate protection against COVID-19. Adequate protection refers to the immune protection a person has developed following vaccination (2 doses) or illness (1 dose of vaccine).

Outdoor:

Physical distancing is highly recommended. If it is not possible to respect distancing, face covering is recommended for those who do not have adequate protection against COVID-19.

However, there are some exceptions. Employees must wear a mask, except:

  • for other health and safety purposes;
  • if it compromises communication, understanding or learning.

We would also like to point out that these measures do not apply to people working by themselves in a closed room, nor at meal times.

Wearing a mask continuously is an addition to other preventive measures implemented in work environments, including minimization of contactsphysical distancingvarious physical barriershand hygiene and appropriate ventilation

The CNESST also states that this new measure does not modify the importance of two metre-distancing and using physical barriers.


We recommend that you consult the Quebec government website, whose information is updated regularly.

CSF Services

  • To ensure the continuation of our activities and services, we have implemented various measures, including teleworking. Our teams are on hand to support you. You can contact the Information and Member Services Centre Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. All requests received by email or telephone will be dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • CSF Disciplinary Committee hearings scheduled up until May 1 have been postponed.

    Email: info@chambresf.com

    Phone: 514-380-3011

    Toll free: 1-888-380-3011

     

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  • Access to our offices is limited due to health measures related to COVID-19. Before coming to the CSF, please ensure that you receive a confirmation to this effect from a CSF employee.
  • If you have any questions about your professional practice, we invite you to consult InfoDéonto or contact the Information and Member Services Centre by email at info@chambresf.com or by phone at 1-800-380-3011. All requests will be dealt with as quickly as possible.

La Chambre ne compte pas allonger la période de qualification de la formation continue obligatoire en raison de la crise actuelle. Les mesures de confinement ne devraient pas empêcher un conseiller de compléter ses UFC dans le temps prévu ni d’atteindre le nombre exigé. Nous vous rappelons que la date de fin de la période de qualification actuelle est le 30 novembre 2021. Toutefois, s’il y a lieu de prendre des mesures particulières d’ici cette date, la Chambre y veillera.

La Chambre ne compte pas allonger la période de validité des formations achetées par le biais du site Web en raison de la crise actuelle. Les formations sont disponibles en ligne et les mesures de confinement ne devraient pas empêcher un conseiller de les compléter dans le temps prévu, contrairement aux formations disponibles en salle seulement.

Client relations

You can meet your clients remotely, using information technologies such as a Web camera, conference call, videoconferencing or a simple, free application such as ZOOM. If these methods cannot be used, telephone communication followed by an email to confirm the content of your discussion is an alternative solution. With this latter option, it is important to properly validate the client’s understanding as you do not actually see the client. Ask the client questions and have him repeat the information to make sure he fully understands.

Of course, you need to make sure that all communications, actions and recommendations are recorded in each client’s file. You must tailor your practice to the situation while respecting your ethical obligations, which remain unchanged.

Review the duty to inform and use of information technologies sections on InfoDéonto.

As a knowledgeable advisor, be proactive and contact your clients; answer their questions and inform them about the potential impact of the pandemic and stock market movements on their portfolio to avoid any surprises when they receive their statements. It is also important that you reassure your clients. No one knows how long this crisis will last, and it should not be the sole reason for making changes to a client’s portfolio.

With full information on hand and your recommendations, your clients will be able to make what they feel are appropriate decisions. Of course, you will need to ensure that all communications, actions and recommendations are recorded in each client’s file.

More information about the investor profile can be found on InfoDéonto.

You are responsible for providing your client with all the information he needs on the pros and cons of carrying out his request, for making sure your client fully understands, and for formulating a suitable recommendation. If, despite all the information you provide to reassure him and after ascertaining that he fully understands the possible consequences, your client still wants to sell all his investments, the decision is up to him. By recording in the client’s file a document detailing your discussions, any warnings and disclaimers made to the client, your recommendation, the client’s decision not to follow that recommendation, and his signature on the document, you will be able to demonstrate that you acted professionally.

For more information about recommendations, visit InfoDéonto.

You can explain to your client that your recommendations were based on his personal and financial situation, including his investor profile at a given date. The current COVID-19 pandemic has implications for the stock markets. It is important at this time to reassure your client; no one knows how long this crisis will last, and it should not be the sole reason for making changes to his portfolio.

More information about the investor profile can be found on InfoDéonto.

First of all, you should know that signature requirements vary from company to company (financial institution, insurer, broker, etc.). Yu should check with them, your firm or your compliance officer, as the case may be. You should also keep any signed documents in the client’s file.

That being said, it should be possible to forward a document to your client by any technological means. Your client could print it, sign it, scan it with a free mobile app and return it to you by email or by regular mail if the original is required.

If your client does not have the technological means or is not comfortable with these tools, he could authorize you to sign the document for him. In order to do so, you will need to obtain clear and specific written confirmation authorizing you to sign on your client’s behalf.

For example, your client should send you an email or text message authorizing you to sign the document, carefully describing it and indicating the date on which you were given this authorization. You could suggest the following wording: “On March 18, 2020, I (client’s name) hereby authorize (your name) to sign the form for me (describe it including the document’s title).” A copy of the authorization must be kept on file.

Once this authorization has been obtained, you will be able to sign the document where provided for your client’s signature and enter your name below in block letters adding “as duly authorized, by email (or text message) on (date), 2020, by (client’s name).”

The authorization will be valid for this document only. Another authorization will be required for each document requiring signature on the same or any other date. Any such authorization cannot be given generally or for an unlimited period of time. This must be an exceptional procedure.

It is necessary, at all times, to validate the requirements of the company concerned (insurer, broker, etc.) by documents requiring a signature and keep a record on file.

If a document requires the signature of a witness and you cannot sign as such, another person present with your client at the time of signing may do so. In this situation, you need to obtain that person’s contact information and add it to the client’s file.

Even in an emergency, you cannot certify your client’s signature if you are not present.

However, if the meeting with your client takes place electronically (e.g. Skype, FaceTime or ZOOM), make sure you confirm the client’s identity.

Of course, a third party can sign as an “ordinary” witness if that is the case, but cannot sign as a “representative” since that would be inaccurate and you would not have done the necessary checks.

At any time, you can refer to the Signature section on InfoDéonto.

Yes. However, you must use communication methods that allow you to identify the client. In addition, when the initial contact with a client is made remotely, you must provide the client with information about you, including your contact information. For example, this can be done when documents are first sent by email, using your electronic signature. The mandatory information that must be provided to clients is outlined on InfoDéonto in the business card section.

As with any client meeting, you must collect information to get to know your client and you must also provide all the information needed to understand the financial products and services, including fees, guarantees and exclusions. When contact is made remotely, it is more difficult to validate that the client understands the information you are providing, especially if you cannot see the client. Ask questions and have the client repeat the information to make sure he fully understands.

Record all details of the telephone discussions you have with the client in the client’s file.

Your obligations are still the same even if you do not meet the client in person. The document containing all the information you collected to complete your client’s Financial Needs Analysis (FNA) must be submitted to the client. This can be done by any means that provides a record of delivery, for example by email or fax. Make sure you keep proof of delivery in the client’s file.

Many answers about the FNA can be found on InfoDéonto.

Be vigilant if someone other than your client asks you for a copy of a document containing the client’s personal information. Make sure of the person’s identity and that you can provide that person with a copy of the requested document. Unless authorized by law or a court to disclose a document containing personal information about your client, you must obtain the client’s consent before acting.

Some people are authorized to obtain copies of documents about your client, even without the client’s consent, such as heirs and legal representatives.

Visit the file management section of InfoDéonto for more information.

No, it is not possible to give money to your client even as a service. By becoming a creditor of your client, you put yourself in a situation where your professional obligations could conflict with your interests as a creditor.

Since lending money to a client is considered to be an activity that may have an impact on the client's financial or personal situation, even when you do not offer financial products or services, even if you do so at the client's request, and even if you do not charge interest, you place yourself in a potential situation of conflict of interest.

Instead, we invite you to contact the insurer in question to see if it has measures in place to accommodate clients who would suffer the consequences of this health crisis.

Some insurers have modified their product offering during this pandemic period, particularly because they can’t carry out the medical examinations required for clients to get specific coverage. If a client is interested in an insurance product, your obligation to propose the one that is appropriate to their own situation is still maintained, despite current circumstances. If the product that you feel best suits the client seems unavailable, we encourage you to start by contacting the insurer to inquire about their eventual flexibility with regard to this product before considering a different product.

Should you need to opt for an alternative solution, your recommendation will consist of an available product that suits the situation and needs of your client after an analysis of the latter, at that particular moment in time. Indeed, if the needs analysis reveals an insurance need, it’s best to recommend an appropriate product right away rather than waiting for the end of the crisis to offer the product that could be a better fit but isn’t available at the time of the recommendation. It would therefore be relevant to add details to the client file with regard to your recommendations resulting from the exceptional situation we are currently experiencing.

When identifying a client’s financial needs, you also need to determine what emergency funds they should be setting aside in case they’ll need to easily access cash due to a temporary reduction or loss of income. In view of the current crisis, we recommend that you advise your clients to save more money or set aside funds to cover a longer period when you are identifying their short-term needs. The exact amount will depend on their personal and financial circumstances, including their employment situation, insurance coverage and protection needs. It’s important to remember that even if your clients enjoy job security, they are not immune from unexpected difficulties.

For more details, check out the investor profile section on InfoDéonto.

This is a proactive investment strategy that involves investing borrowed capital (leverage) with the hopes of increasing the investor’s net worth and reaching their financial goals sooner than expected. While such a strategy—if properly managed and if the expected returns materialize—can sometimes enable an investor to achieve their financial objectives more quickly or with less investment effort, there’s still a major risk that their investment will lose value and the investor will be required to repay the lender the borrowed sum plus interest.

It is understandable that some of your clients may want to take advantage of the lower asset prices caused by the current crisis. However, the decision to use this strategy requires a rigorous assessment of the client’s situation and a great deal of caution. Generally, a client should be capable of repaying the loan used for the investment even if the value of the investment made with the borrowed capital falls to zero. A loan used to purchase investments should not exceed 30% of the client’s net worth and 50% of their liquid assets. Furthermore, a client’s total debt should not exceed 35% of their total income, without taking into account the income on their investment. So if a client already has difficulty paying down their debt and loans (for example, a mortgage or credit card), the strategy of leveraged investing is probably not appropriate for them, and it should not be offered to them even if they request it.

When the markets are volatile, it is very hard to predict exactly when the downturn will end. It is risky to bet on an upswing if you don’t have sound finances and cash available in case the situation doesn’t turn out in your favor.

See the section dedicated to leverage on InfoDéonto.

Data Security and information technology

Finalizing legal instruments electronically, interacting with a client using information technologies (IT), using email or other messaging services and cloud computing—all present many security-related challenges. Protecting a client’s personal information is the most important issue when an advisor uses IT.

You must ensure the confidentiality and security of the personal information collected from your client, whether during collection, use, disclosure, retention or destruction, and you must make sure that you do not needlessly expose yourself to the risk of data leakage, theft or loss, or identity theft. You must bear this in mind and take appropriate action as you are responsible for your clients’ privacy and for protecting their personal information.

Visit the use of information technologies section and familiarize yourself with the IT and privacy tool available on InfoDéonto.

You can also read this article published recently in the Magazine CSF.

There are a number of security considerations to bear in mind when conducting legal translations electronically and communicating with clients online and by email. Protecting the personal information of clients is the number one priority for advisors using information technology in their work.

Advisors have a duty to ensure the confidentiality and security of personal information collected from their clients. This information may be exposed to the risk of a leak, loss or theft, not to mention identity fraud, when it is collected, used, communicated, stored or destroyed.

Advisors must be mindful of risk and take all necessary precautions, because they are responsible for protecting their clients’ personal information.

How to ensure the protection of personal information:

  • Check each client’s email address carefully before sending a message in order to avoid personal information being communicated to another recipient by mistake.
  • When sending a message to multiple clients, be sure to enter clients’ email addresses in the blind carbon copy (Bcc) field.
  • Use encryption to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of data during transmission.

When security is at stake, the medium used should make it possible to identify the sender and the recipient and avoid any potential dispute as to the integrity and provenance of the messages. It should also enable data to be exchanged securely, ensure the reliable storage of the data exchanged and block access to any confidential data.

For example, using passwords and access codes, antivirus software and a firewall, deleting suspicious emails and attachments and activating a computer’s automatic sleep mode are all good ways for advisors to protect the personal information they hold about their clients.

If an advisor uses an encrypted email system and the connection is secure on both ends, confidential information in the documents sent by the advisor will be secured.

Advisors should talk to their clients about the importance of keeping their information confidential to ensure they are aware of the risks of sending documents to their advisor or any other person by email. Clients who do not have a secure email connection may choose to send their documents by courier or priority mail instead, as these can also be quick, secure ways to transmit information.

Yes, here is the procedure to be followed:

  1. Once a copy of the existing policy has been obtained from the client and analyzed, complete the form “Prior Notice of Policy Replacement”.
  2. After completing and signing the notice, send it to the client by any means providing proof of the date of delivery (e.g. email or fax).
  3. Before signing the proposal, explain the content of the notice to the client item by item. Ask the client questions and have him repeat the information to make sure he fully understands and makes an informed decision. Using technology where you can see the client would be ideal in these circumstances.
  4. If the client still wants to replace the policy, complete the proposal and send it to the client for signature.
  5. Send the notice to the insurer whose policy is likely to be replaced and to the insurer with whom you propose placing the new policy within 5 business days of the signing of the proposal.
  6. Have the client sign the notice and initial each page no later than when the policy is delivered. Ask the client to send you this copy. Delivery can also be by email or fax.
  7. Add this signed copy to the client’s file.

For more information, see the prior notice of policy replacement section on InfoDéonto.

The protection of client privacy is the most important concern when using videoconferencing software and any other information technology (IT). Advisors must ensure the confidentiality and security of the personal information collected from clients - at the time of collection, use, disclosure, storage and disposal - as the risk of leaks, theft or loss of data, as well as possible identity theft all exist.

You must therefore consider these risks and take appropriate measures, as you remain responsible for protecting your clients’ personal information, regardless of the IT used. It is important to ensure that the videoconferencing software supports the use of host access codes and passwords. Some programs may require participants to enter an additional PIN before joining a meeting. The software must also allow participants to be identified.

When videoconferencing, you should refrain from sharing links to documents and other websites. In addition, if you need to transmit or receive documents from your client, the use of more secure technology is encouraged, such as an encrypted e-mail system with a secure two-way connection. For more information, please refer to the appropriate precautions to take when sending an e-mail.

Certain technical considerations should be taken into account when determining which videoconferencing software to use. All communication must be encrypted (256 bits recommended). It is also important to use software with servers located in Canada, to ensure that the software company is subject to Canadian laws on the protection of personal information. Furthermore, the minimum connection speed of your network should be at least 5 Mbps.

Finally, regardless of the videoconferencing software used, it is important to verify that your device adequately protects your clients’ personal information, by using a firewall and antivirus software and enabling automatic sleep mode, for instance.

La protection des renseignements personnels du client est l’enjeu le plus important lorsque le conseiller utilise des logiciels de vidéoconférence ou toute autre technologie de l’information (TI). Le conseiller doit s’assurer de la confidentialité et de la sécurité des renseignements personnels recueillis auprès de son client lors de leur collecte, de leur utilisation, de leur communication, de leur conservation ou de leur destruction puisqu’il s’expose à des risques de fuite, vol ou perte de données ainsi que d’usurpation d’identité.

Vous devez donc en tenir compte et prendre les mesures qui s’imposent, car vous demeurez responsable de la protection des renseignements personnels de vos clients, et ce, peu importe les TI utilisées. Il est important de s’assurer que le logiciel de vidéoconférence permet l’utilisation d’un numéro de code d’accès ou d’un numéro de rencontre. Certains logiciels requièrent l’usage d’un mot de passe supplémentaire. Le support doit aussi permettre d’identifier les participants.

Avant de contacter votre client par vidéoconférence, il est important de s’assurer qu’il consent à ce type de rencontre. Vous devez donc aborder avec lui les notions de confidentialité et de protection de ses renseignements personnels afin de le sensibiliser aux risques. De plus, si vous enregistrez la vidéoconférence, vous devez en informer votre client et vous assurer de son consentement.

Lors de l’utilisation de la vidéoconférence, évitez de partager des liens vers des documents et d’autres sites web. De plus, si vous devez transmettre ou recevoir des documents de votre client, l’utilisation d’un autre moyen technologique plus sécuritaire doit être favorisée, par exemple un système de courriels cryptés (chiffrés), dont la connexion est sécurisée dans les deux sens. Pour plus d’information, veuillez consulter les précautions à prendre lors de l’envoi d’un courriel.

Certains éléments techniques peuvent vous guider lors de la prise de décision quant à l’utilisation d’un logiciel de vidéoconférence. La communication doit être cryptée (256 bits recommandés). Il est important de privilégier un logiciel dont les serveurs sont situés au Canada, cela permet de s’assurer que l’entreprise est assujettie aux lois canadiennes en matière de protection des renseignements personnels. Il faut aussi s’assurer d’avoir au moins 5 Mbit de bande passante disponible sur votre lien Internet.

Finalement, indépendamment du logiciel de vidéoconférence utilisé, il est important de s’assurer que votre appareil protège adéquatement les renseignements personnels de vos clients, par exemple avec l’utilisation d’un pare-feu et d’un antivirus ainsi que par l’activation de la mise en veille automatique.

L’enregistrement de la rencontre par vidéoconférence n’est pas une obligation déontologique ou réglementaire. Cette pratique est proposée dans le contexte où la prise de notes et la conservation des informations au dossier du client peuvent poser certains défis lors d’une rencontre à distance. Mais l'enregistrement ne peut se faire qu'avec le consentement du client. Ainsi, si ce dernier refuse d'être enregistré, vous n'aurez d'autre choix que de prendre des notes afin de consigner et de conserver toutes les informations transmises par votre client dans son dossier, puisqu’à titre de professionnel, vous avez les mêmes obligations, que vous rencontriez le client en personne ou par vidéoconférence.

Une rencontre par vidéoconférence comporte de nombreux bienfaits, mais elle pose aussi certains défis. Elle pourrait être interrompue. Il pourrait aussi être plus difficile de prendre des notes lors d’échanges avec le client. Il est donc essentiel de prendre les mesures nécessaires afin de vous assurer de recueillir, de consigner et de conserver toutes les informations du client, et ce, afin de respecter vos obligations déontologiques et réglementaires. Pour ce faire, vous pouvez prévoir une durée plus longue pour la rencontre afin d’avoir assez de temps pour bien noter les renseignements de votre client. Il ne faut pas hésiter à expliquer au client qu’à titre de professionnel vous avez des obligations à respecter et à lui expliquer les bienfaits que cela représente pour lui.

Pour obtenir plus de précisions sur vos obligations en matière de cueillette et de conservation des renseignements sur le client, visitez cette section d’Info-déonto.

Advisor support

Yes, you can perform another job while still practising as a representative in insurance of persons, provided you meet the following three criteria:

Performance of the other job:

  1. Must not be incompatible with the pursuit of your activities as an advisor; (see InfoDéonto for a list of incompatible activities).
  2. Must not place you in a conflict of interest and does not jeopardize your objectivity.
  3. Allows you to display due diligence and availability in the performance of your activities as a representative. You may therefore carry out your activities as a representative part-time and take a second job as long as you are available and diligent with respect to your clients.

We invite you to review the rules of the firm or broker for which you practise, or your employer, in this regard.

If you work for a firm, corporation or broker and are unable to maintain your activities, inform the compliance department or a manager and familiarize yourself with the rules applicable to this situation. Afterwards, contact your clients to reassure them and advise them that another advisor will be there to meet their needs in the event of an emergency during your work stoppage. If you are an independent counsellor, to ensure that your clients receive all the support they urgently need, you could refer them to another counsellor or a partner who holds a certificate in the same discipline as you, with whom you will have made a prior agreement. This agreement would include, for example, the services that can be provided, the people involved and the terms and conditions.

he Canada Revenue Agency website provides information on eligibility criteria to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Here are the criteria:

The Benefit will be provided to workers:

  • aged 15 or older and residing in Canada;
  • who have stopped working due to COVID-19 or are eligible to regular or illness benefits from employment insurance;
  • who earned at least $5,000 in revenue in 2019 or during the 12 months prior to the date of their application. The revenue of at least $5,000 can come from one or several of these sources: employment income, self-employment income, ineligible dividends, maternity leave or parental leave benefits from Employment Insurance or similar benefits provided by Québec as part of the Québec Parental Insurance Plan;
  • who, when submitting their application, had not earned more than $1,000 of combined income from a job or self-employment for 14 consecutive days or longer during the initial 4-week period. As for the subsequent applications, the benefit is provided to workers who have not earned more than $1,000 of combined income from a job or self-employment during the 4-week period for which the application is submitted;
  • who have not left their job voluntarily.

The site also specifies that...

Eligible disruption of employment cases include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • you lost your job or your work hours have been reduced to zero;
  • you are sick or you are under quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • you are missing work to take care of other people, because they are under quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
  • you are missing work to take care of children or other dependent people whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

Note that the government plans to issue regulations clarifying the notion of income. The Chambre is monitoring the matter closely and will keep you informed.

You are receiving income (trailing commissions, renewals, etc.) which exceed the maximum $1,000 amount mentioned above?

If you are receiving trailing commissions for sales made before the crisis, or insurance contract renewals for example that exceed the set $1,000 amount for the specified period, you don’t meet the benefit’s eligibility criteria.

If you need financial support because your income has decreased substantially, and you still don’t meet the criteria issued by the federal government with regard to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but think you are eligible to it, the Association professionnelle des conseillers en services financiers (APCSF) has implemented an awareness campaign with the federal government. This campaign is calling on responsible ministers to the particular situation affecting certain financial service professionals whose income level is jeopardizing the sustainability of their business. You can contact the APCSF directly to receive the letter at the following email: info@apcsf.ca.

APCSF Website

Find answers to the most common questions by using the Canada Revenue Agency’s automated help line at 1-833-966-2099

To speak to a Canada Revenue Agency agent regarding the CERB or CRA’s My Account: 1-800-959-7383

It is currently very important to be well surrounded and to be able to ask for help when needed. For example, you can seek advice from your mentor, if you have one, or from a more experienced advisor in your network. Perhaps they have already experienced similar difficulties at that point in their career and their advice could help you find solutions and keep your morale up.

Several measures and resources have also been introduced to provide relief for workers facing hardship as a result of COVID-19. Some of them are put in place by government authorities, while others are set up by businesses, including suppliers and financial institutions.

Other Measures

Governments are multiplying measures in response to the difficulties resulting from this crisis. We update our website regularly to provide you with relevant resources in this regard.

For more information about engaging in any additional employment, office or function, visit InfoDéonto.

Do you have any questions? Contact us:

Email: info@chambresf.com

Phone: 514-380-3011

Toll free: 1-888-380-3011