Update on CCEL’s Inclusive Investing Project

26 May 2020

By Valerie Le Blanc

Consultation Wrap-up

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL) completed its consultation interviews for the Inclusive Investing project in October 2019. During the one-year consultation period, Project Manager and BCLI/CCEL Staff Lawyer, Valerie Le Blanc, interviewed over 90 key informants and stakeholders on the use of supported decision-making, in the investment context. Key informants included people living with Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia or intellectual and developmental disabilities, supporters, investment professionals, lawyers, academics, and community agencies in British Columbia, Ontario, the United States and internationally.

The consultation interviews were an integral part of the research for this project. The depth of experience, insight, and issues canvassed during those conversations shed light on the legal, policy, social, and other elements that inform how people living with different capacity challenges receive meaningful support to make investment decisions.

The research and consultations for this project are focused on how to facilitate supported decision-making during the investment process to maximize an investor’s access to investment options while minimizing the loss of autonomy and unnecessary intervention through court-ordered guardianship. The key research question is: How can Canadian investment advisors, adults with cognitive and decision-making challenges, and supporters incorporate supported decision making into the investment decision-making process while guarding against undue influence and financial abuse?

The questions we asked during the consultation interviews focused on people’s professional and lived experience with investing. Below are some highlights from the questions we asked:

Questions asked of people living with Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia, or intellectual or developmental disabilities:

  • How do you receive support to make investment decisions?
  • Is the support you receive based on a formal agreement (e.g. a representation agreement in BC) or an informal practice (more common in Ontario)?
  • What does meaningful support look like to you?
  • What can your investment advisor do to support you to participate in the investment decision-making process?

Questions asked of investment advisors

  • Do you see formal or informal supported decision making taking place in practice? If so, what does it look like?
  • What is your level of understanding about the difference between supported and substitute decision making?
  • What concerns, if any, do you have about the use of supported decision making during the investment process?
  • What education or resources are available, or could be made available to you, to enable you to facilitate the use of supported decision making with the people you work with?

Questions asked of lawyers and legal academics

  • How often do clients ask you to prepare section 7 representation agreements (for routine financial affairs, including investments)?
  • Do you see formal or informal supported decision making taking place when meeting with clients? If so, what does that look like?
  • What are some of the legal issues that may prohibit enhanced use of supported decision making for investment decisions?
  • What can we learn from models or frameworks in other jurisdictions about these issues?

Questions asked of community agencies and advocates

  • Do you see informal or formal support taking place in practice?
  • How do members of your community provide support to family or friends for investment decisions?
  • What are the educational or resource needs of community members on supported decision making and investing?

Some of the key themes emerging from the research and consultations

  • Investment advisors and regulators are keen to learn more about how to enhance the use of supported decision making in practice, while guarding against potential undue influence and financial abuse.
  • Supporters would benefit from resources on how to navigate both the investment process, and how to support their family, friends, or loved ones to meaningfully participate in their investment choices.
  • People receiving support appreciate meaningful opportunities to engage in their investment planning decisions. The also want to better understand investing and what their options are to plan for their financial future.

Project Advisory Committee Meeting—November 2019

The Project Advisory Committee met in November 2019 to review the consultation findings, and to discuss the tool development plan. In addition to publishing a report on the research findings, Valerie will develop a suite of practical tools for supporters, people receiving support, and investment advisors to support inclusive and engaged investing practices for people with different capacity challenges.

For a list of our Project Advisory Committee members, and their bios, visit our project page.

Winter 2020

Between the period January 2020 to March 2020, Valerie developed the first draft of the project report.

Spring/Summer 2020

The project advisory committee has reviewed the first draft report, and preparation of the second draft is underway. Valerie will also begin developing the project tools during the summer months.

Project Partners and Collaborators

The CCEL is grateful for the ongoing support from our two project partners, Alzheimer Society of B.C. and Inclusion BC. We also received support from ARCH Disability Law Centre for outreach and consultation interviews for the project.

For more information on the Inclusive Investing: Respecting the Rights of Vulnerable Investors through Supported Decision-Making Project, please consult our project page

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