The Autorité des marchés financiers (the "AMF" or the "Authority") is the organization appointed by the Government of Québec to regulate Québec's financial markets and assisting consumers of financial products and services. It was established on February 1, 2004, pursuant to the Act respecting the Autorité des marchés financiers, now known as the Act respecting the regulation of the financial sector. The AMF is exceptional in that it manages the distribution of financial goods and services, as well as insurance, securities, and derivatives, as well as deposit institutions other than banks.
The President and Chief Executive Officer, who is chosen by the Québec government, is in charge of leading and managing the AMF. When it comes to the financial sector's regulation, the President and Chief Executive Officer carry out the duties and use the authority granted to the AMF by the Acts mentioned in section 7 of the Act. Additionally, a board of directors made up of individuals chosen by the government is in charge of running the AMF.
Through the fines and dues paid by the individuals and businesses subject to the laws the AMF is tasked with implementing, it is able to maintain its financial independence.
What are the Goals of AMF?
The main objectives under the AMF's supervision include the following;
Services to clients and compensation
- Helping customers with complaints and concerns.
- Managing insurance and compensation plans for financial services and products.
- Distributing various educational programs about financial goods and services in collaboration with groups protecting investors.
- Offering a contact point for questions for consumers and participants in the financial sector.
Institutions for deposit and insurance
- Monitoring and regulating Québec-based insurance businesses and deposit-taking institutions.
- Ensuring that financial institutions adhere to numerous legal and regulatory standards and are duly permitted to operate in Quebec.
- Coordinating the granting of permits, the determination of an entity's legal standing, and the updating of institutional records.
- Conducting thorough evaluations based on risk management of institutions' financial standing and related records.
- Inspecting institutions on-site or off-site and providing any relevant recommendations.
- Evaluating the business practices of institutions.
- Creating normative tools for financial institutions to use in carrying out their functions, such as standards or guidelines.
The provision of financial services and goods
- Applying the regulations controlling the qualifications and conduct of representatives, consultants, and brokers in all sectors to the sale of financial products and services.
- Managing the licensing of agents and the registration of businesses in the personal insurance, property damage insurance, claims adjudication, and financial planning industries.
- Safeguarding investor protection and the efficient operation of the securities markets.
- Examining disclosure documents related to the sale or public offering of securities.
- Ensuring that reporting issuers, or all businesses that have made public offerings, deliver the financial statements, MD&As, and other papers needed by law and regulations to securities holders (shareholders) and other market participants.
- Ensuring that companies that issue securities and other players in the financial industry follow the rules, like filing insider reports in a timely manner.
- Directing the creation and application of guidelines and rules relevant to capital markets.
AMF’s Fight Against Money Laundering
One of the AMF's top supervisory priorities is the battle against money laundering and the funding of terrorism (AML-CFT). Beginning in 2020, French law has been updated to reflect the Fifth Money Laundering Directive. It lays out a number of initiatives to better combat terrorist financing and provide increased financial transaction transparency. A quick reminder and overview of the reference legislation are provided below.
Obligations Imposed by the Fourth Directive
The Fourth Directive's obligations, which were included into the French Monetary and Financial Code by an order dated December 1st, 2016, include:
- Risk assessment
- Identification and confirmation of clients' and their beneficial owners' identities
- During entry and throughout the commercial relationship, exercise due diligence
- Internal audit requirements and reporting to the AMF;
- Obligation to submit suspicious transaction information to TRACFIN
- Implementation of measures to freeze assets
Brief Summary of the Fifth AML-CFT Directive
The Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) is a European Union directive aimed at strengthening measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. It builds upon the previous Anti-Money Laundering Directives and incorporates new provisions to enhance the EU's anti-money laundering framework. It seeks to;
- Expand the scope of offenses to include a wider range of criminal activities and jurisdictions.
- Introduce criminal liability for aiding and abetting money laundering and terrorist financing.
- Harmonize penalties for money laundering and terrorist financing offenses across EU member states.
- Establish centralized national registers or electronic systems to identify the ultimate beneficial owners of legal entities.
- Enhance cooperation and information sharing among EU member states, financial intelligence units, and relevant authorities.
- Implement enhanced due diligence measures for high-risk third countries, politically exposed persons, and transactions involving high-risk factors.
- Provide protection for whistleblowers who report money laundering and terrorist financing activities.
- Promote transparency, accountability, and effectiveness in combating money laundering and terrorist financing within the EU.
AMF's Areas of Action
The French financial market, its participants, and investment products are regulated by the AMF. It makes ensuring that investors are properly informed and is the impetus behind regulatory change on a global and European scale. The AMF establishes the regulations that are applicable to the participants and goods under its purview:
- Market infrastructures and financial markets: To implement financial legislation, the AMF General Regulation (in French and English) establishes guidelines and processes. With the exception of banks, the AMF is in charge of all financial institutions' operations in Québec. It implements, amends, and updates the legal framework (laws, rules, guidelines, etc.) that applies to financial institutions in light of changes in the financial industry and industry best practices derived from acknowledged global standards. The framework's goal is to make sure financial institutions follow ethical management and business standards and maintain capital, reserve, and liquidity levels that meet AMF requirements.
- Listed companies
- Financial intermediaries licensed to offer financial investment services and advice (credit institutions authorized to provide investment services, investment firms, investment management companies, and financial investment advisers)
- Items for collective investment that were used to buy financial instruments
- Service providers for digital assets and token issuers (ICO) (DASP)
Process of AMF Regulations
In order to enforce the legislation, AMF publishes a General Regulation that outlines the policies and procedures. It offers a policy, a virtual road map for implementing the rules that supplement the General Regulation, to help market players with the Regulation's implementation.
The AMF General Regulation: Requirements to Follow
This Regulation evolves in response to the recommendations of the institution's working groups, as well as to local ordinances and European directives. Every time a modification is proposed, the General Regulation is made available for public comment. After the Board approves it, the change is then sent to the Minister of the Economy, who ratifies it by executive order that is subsequently published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. AMF's website then publishes the modified General Regulation.
The AMF Helps Create Laws That are Used in Europe and Around the World
In today's highly globalized financial markets, which need the creation of precise, consistent, and harmonized international standards, the AMF plays a crucial role alongside European and international organizations.
As a result, it actively participates in numerous projects to enhance financial market regulation.
For example, it assists in the work of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) by chairing standing committees and working group meetings, as well as by participating in meetings and working groups. In addition, the Secretary-General chairs the standing committee on corporate finance, whereas the Chair of the AMF chairs the standing committee on the secondary market.
These activities are part of the AMF's goal of being a high-performing institution and a top-of-mind resource for Québec consumers and the financial services industry.