News September 7, 2021

I am unable to meet with a client to have them sign a document. What can I do?

First of all, you should know that signature requirements vary from one financial institution to another (insurer, firm, brokerage, general agent, etc.). So, you should begin by checking with them or with your institution or compliance officer, as the case may be.

It may be possible to send the client your document by any technological means that ensures that the confidential information in the document is protected. The method used should identify the sender and recipient to avoid any potential challenge regarding the message’s integrity and source. Furthermore, it should make data exchange secure, make data preservation reliable, and block access to confidential information. For instance, documents could be sent via an off-site storage location or via email if using an email encryption app with a two-way secure connection. If the original copy is required, using registered mail is still an option.

If your client doesn’t have technological tools or isn’t comfortable with those tools, the client can authorize you to sign the document on their behalf using your own signature. To do this, you must obtain a clear and specific written authorization to sign your name in the space provided for the client’s signature. This never involves imitating your client’s signature or making it seem like it was the client who signed. To sign for your client, the client must send you an email or text message authorizing you to sign the document with your own signature, and describing the document clearly and giving the date on which this authorization is being sent. You could suggest the following phrasing: “On this day, March 18, 2020, I, (client’s name), authorize (your name) to sign the form (describe it using the document identifier) without my signature appearing on it. This form must be used to (describe the operation, providing some details, e.g., purchase an insurance/health policy, modify a beneficiary or coverage, purchase or sell investment product Y valued at approximately Z).” A copy of this authorization must be kept in the file, attached to the form in question. Once you have received this authorization, you can sign the document in the space provided for the client’s signature. You should also print your name above or below it, adding “duly authorized by email (or text message) by (client’s name) on (date).”

Finally, don’t forget to keep all signed documents in the client’s file.

 

I am unable to witness my client’s signature to authenticate it. What should I do? 

A witness’ signature is used to confirm the identity of the person signing a document. The witness must have seen the client sign the document, and then the witness must also sign it.
 
If a document requires a witness’ signature and you cannot act as that witness, it is possible for another person, who is present with the client during the signing, to act as the witness. In such a situation, you must get the witness’ contact information and add them to your client’s file. 

Even in an emergency, you cannot authenticate a client’s signature if you are not there in person with them. However, if your meeting with the client is taking place via videoconference (e.g. Skype, FaceTime, ZOOM, Teams), you must make sure to confirm their identity and see them signing the document by hand in order to later sign the document as a witness after it is sent to you. 

When transmitting a document using a technological tool requiring the client to use an electronic signature, the witness’ signature should also be done electronically, since it is not possible to remotely see the client signing the electronic document.
 
It’s important to remember that two-factor authentication confirms that the person signing the document is really the one for whom it was intended and who should be signing it. This technology emails the signer a hyperlink to a secure platform and requires a second authentication from the signer, for example by sending a text message with a code that will give them access to the document to sign it. This therefore makes it possible to confirm the client’s identity. The usefulness of signing a cookie when digital signature technology is used becomes redundant. 
It is necessary, at all times, to confirm the requirements of the financial institution (insurer, broker, etc.) concerned in the document requiring a signature and to keep proof of them on file.

Feel free to refer at any time to the Signature section on InfoDéonto.