Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is an independent federal government agency that regulates and supervises more than 400 federally regulated financial institutions (FRFIs) to determine whether they are in sound financial condition and meeting their requirements. OSFI also regulates and supervises 1,200 pension plans to determine if they meet the minimum funding requirements and are complying with other requirements.
Federally regulated entities include all banks in Canada, and all federally incorporated or registered trust and loan companies, insurance companies, cooperative credit associations, fraternal benefit societies. OSFI’s scope of regulation does not include consumer-related issues or the securities sector, which are the responsibility of other agencies, both federal and provincial.
OSFI regulates by developing rules, interpreting legislation and regulations, and providing regulatory approvals for certain types of transactions. It also contributes to new accounting, auditing, and actuarial standards. All of this must balance the goals of safety and soundness with the need for institutions to operate within a competitive marketplace.
OSFI supervises by analyzing financial, security, and economic trends to identify emerging issues that could adversely affect FRFIs, including their integrity or security. OSFI assesses an institution’s financial condition, material risks and the quality of its governance, risk management and compliance. It includes supervision of FRFIs to determine whether they have adequate policies and procedures to protect themselves against threats to their integrity or security, including foreign interference.
When weaknesses are identified, OSFI intervenes early and promptly advises executive management, boards, and pension plan administrators so that they carry out corrective measures to deal with the situation without delay.
OSFI’s powers to act on threats to FRFI’s integrity or security, including foreign interference, fall into two categories:
Although OSFI has certain regulatory and supervisory powers and plays an important oversight role, it does not manage the operations of institutions or pension plans. Their executive management, boards of directors, and trustees are responsible for their success or failure. OSFI’s supervision approach is risk-based to reflect the nature, size, complexity, and risk profile of an institution. Financial institutions must be allowed to take reasonable risks and compete effectively both at home and abroad, while at the same time safeguard the interests of depositors, and policyholders. OSFI’s goal is to balance competitiveness with financial stability, and international standards with Canadian market realities.
OSFI is undergoing a transformational journey that will better position the organization to thrive in an era of intensifying uncertainty, so that the public’s confidence in a sound financial system remains unwavering. The Blueprint serves as the compass for that journey by refocusing our mandate, expanding and fortifying our risk management capabilities, and enhancing our culture.
The transformation plan set out in the Blueprint will guide OSFI’s overall direction through to 2025. Multiple operational plans ensure that our transformation is reflected in specific and tangible goals for each sector and the organization overall.
OSFI’s corporate values represent both who we are as an organization and where we want to go. Those values, Respect, Curiosity, and Stewardship, guide our actions and decision-making and are embedded as an essential part of OSFI’s Blueprint.
We empower diversity of thought, promote inclusion and collaboration, and behave with authenticity and professionalism. We encourage OSFI employees to embrace a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), so that it informs all aspects of our human capital practices and makes us an employer of choice. DEI is not just a business imperative, but a moral one.
Curiosity is central to our organizational mission. We ensure that a culture of curiosity, where we foster diverse mindsets and make it safe to be different and even to fail, is at the core of all we do. We explore and celebrate differences, which drives innovation and positive transformation. We learn from our attempts and embrace failure quickly and proactively as a step in the learning process.
We act with integrity and take accountability, we make decisions in an informed, transparent, and balanced manner, and we uphold the credibility and reputation of OSFI. Our Blueprint calls for a shift to a macro-responsive mindset rather than a micro-centric one. While we will always prudentially regulate and supervise regulated institutions, how we manage the risks they face will be recalibrated to better balance the individual institutions and the broader macro-risks they face. By developing a greater risk appetite among our people and as an organization, we will be able to make decisions more quickly and confidently while managing associated risks with speed and agility.
OSFI reports to Parliament through the Minister of Finance. Various formal and informal processes are used to ensure effective execution of OSFI’s mandate. For example, the Financial Institutions Supervisory Committee, whose members are OSFI, the Department of Finance, the Bank of Canada, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, meets at least quarterly to share information on matters relating to supervising FRFIs.
OSFI also works with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), which is responsible for ensuring compliance with Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
Collaboration and consultations with provincial counterparts and industry stakeholders in Canada and abroad are a regular occurrence and help OSFI to understand and resolve potential issues.
International organizations such as the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors play a key role in the development of regulatory frameworks for banks and insurers that contribute to a strong and stable global financial system. OSFI has earned a strong international reputation through its active participation in such international organizations, which allows it to share Canadian perspectives and help shape international rule-setting.
A properly functioning, efficient financial system in which Canadians can place their trust and confidence is essential to Canada’s economy. OSFI’s regulation and supervision activities play a key role in contributing to public confidence in the Canadian financial system.
And OSFI doesn’t cost Canadian taxpayers any money. OSFI is funded from fees charged to FRFIs and federally regulated pension plans.
The Office of the Chief Actuary is an independent unit housed within OSFI that provides a range of actuarial valuation and advisory services to the federal government. This includes actuarial reports on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), the Old Age Security Program, and the Canada Student Loans Program. Although the chief actuary reports to the superintendent, they are solely responsible for the content and actuarial opinions in the reports.