Consideration of Different Securityholder Interests

This article was originally published in the Investment Funds Practitioner in December 2016.

An investment fund manager’s duty of care is set out in s.116 of the Securities Act (Ontario). Members of an Independent Review Committee (IRC) have a similar duty with respect to conflict of interest matters referred to them by the investment fund manager. Section 3.9(1) of National Instrument 81-107 Independent Review Committee for Investment Funds imposes a fiduciary duty on a member of an IRC to (a) act honestly and in good faith, with a view to the best interests of the investment fund, and (b) exercise the degree of care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances.

To act in the best interests of the investment fund, IRC members should have a good understanding of the broad investor groups invested in the fund. Staff encourage IRC members to conduct their analyses of the issues presented by fund managers not only by considering the interest of the investment fund itself, but also the interests of the securityholders of the fund. While conducting these analyses the interests of the investors in the fund should not be considered at an individual level but rather, take into account the impact of the proposed action on different groups of securityholders invested in the fund. For example, the analysis could consider the impact of the proposed action on taxable versus non-taxable investors, on newer investors versus longer term investors in the fund, and on investors who purchased under a deferred sales charge versus investors who purchased on a front-end load basis.

Staff remind IRC members of the need to balance and consider the varied interests of securityholders when determining whether a proposed action concerning a conflict of interest matter is in the best interests of the investment fund.