Retail banking has been a significant and relatively stable income source for the global financial services industry throughout the financial crisis. However, the retail banking landscape is transforming due to rapid regulatory change, cross-border consolidations, M&A and new technologies. As financial services businesses attempt to focus on revenue growth, innovation, improved service and cost containment in this dynamic environment, they need to employ effective risk-management strategies and ensure regulatory compliance.
As Canada’s leading Financial Services practice, Blakes has the creativity, skill and experience required to help clients navigate the complex challenges they face. Applying our specialized consumer finance expertise, we counsel clients on their retail banking operations and products, regulatory compliance and day-to-day operations. The Blakes Financial Services group advises numerous financial institutions (including domestic and foreign banks, trust companies, loan companies and insurance companies), money-services businesses, consumer finance companies and other financial service providers on a wide variety of retail financial products and services, including payment products, deposit accounts, credit products, residential mortgage loans, insurance, credit reports and collections.
From a regulatory perspective, we have the largest and most active financial institution regulatory practice in Canada, allowing us to effectively advise clients on the current regulatory framework, as well as on any draft legislation and regulatory proposals that may affect them. Financial services businesses come to Blakes for advice on compliance with applicable legislation and related requirements, including consideration of federal/provincial jurisdictional issues; consumer protection legislation, including disclosure requirements for deposit accounts and credit products; e-commerce requirements; and guidance when marketing and distributing credit insurance products. Credit, debit and prepaid card issuers, processors, merchant acquirers and distributors rely on our particular expertise in the payment card, technologies and systems industry, specifically with respect to credit, debit, stored-value and gift cards, and electronic payments.
Blakes lawyers also advise on privacy, protection of personal information and credit reporting legislation; collection agency legislation and prohibited collection practices; anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing compliance; and codes of conduct of the Canadian Bankers Association and others. Additionally, we advise on corporate governance, consumer contracts and compliance when developing and modernizing financial products and services. Foreign-based clients retain us for advice when introducing financial products and services into Canada on a cross-border basis or through a Canadian-based business, and we regularly advise on portfolio acquisitions and sales.
Financial institutions also engage us when dealing with regulatory agencies and industry associations, including the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Canadian Payments Association and applicable provincial regulators.