The RIBO Code of Conduct requires that a member shall be both candid and honest when advising a client. In addition to the requirements of the RIB Act, there is clear common law responsibility to serve members of the public in a way that satisfies the legitimate expectations consumers have when dealing with a professional in a specific kind of business or service. RIBO strives to maintain and advance the professionalism of the industry.
In general, advertising is a key part of any successful business, regardless of its size in the industry. Some companies may have an effective digital/online advertisement campaign to solicit business. That being said, RIBO has seen an influx of complaints/inquiries recently due to misleading advertisements and in some cases, inappropriate advertising. Misleading advertisements portray inaccurate and deceptive information in order to attract consumers, which can be used in many different forms, such as false claims or statements, inaccurate affiliations, illegal use of logo/branding (that does not belong to the company and/or is fake and non-existent), defaming or discrediting other brokers, scare tactics, bait & switches, etc.
To help reduce the usage of deceiving advertising in the industry, RIBO would like to remind all members and brokerage firms to have a process in place to monitor and eliminate any misleading content in any advertisements in order to protect consumers and the public in general. This will also promote competing in a fair environment in the industry as a whole. The usage of misleading advertisements could create an atmosphere of unhealthy competition and therefore, a negative perception of the industry. Member’s advertisements should strive for a high level of professionalism and not jeopardize the independence or integrity of the broker.
Licensees with non-active firms are reminded that the non-active member firm’s name must not be advertised on any signage, letterhead, business card, website, or any other form to the public. For more information, please see the Receiving Commissions: Registering a Non-Active Firm with RIBO in the March 2022 bulletin.
The usage of misleading and/or inappropriate advertising by any member or brokerage firm could be in violation of the RIB Act – R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 991 – General as follows:
Section 14 – Code of Conduct:
1. A member shall discharge the member’s duties to clients, members of the public, fellow members and insurers with integrity.
11. A member shall assist in maintaining the integrity of the member’s vocation and should participate in its activities.
13. A member’s conduct towards other members, members of the public, insurers and the Corporation shall be characterized by courtesy and good faith.
Section 15(1) – Misconduct:
1. The use of methods of solicitation and advertising that are not compatible with the honour and dignity of the vocation including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the use of any illustration, circular or memorandum that misrepresents, or by omission is so incomplete that it misrepresents the terms, benefits or advantages of any policy or contract of insurance issued or to be issued, and the making of any false or misleading statement as to the terms, benefits or advantages of any contract or policy of insurance issued or to be issued.
6. Holding oneself out or advertising by means of advertisements, cards, circulars, letterheads, signs, or other methods, or carrying on business in any other manner than the name in which the individual or the corporation or partnership of which the individual is the designated representative is registered.
RIBO recommends that all members review the additional guidelines found in the Principal Broker handbook regarding Advertising Standards and Recommendations. It is also strongly recommended that all proposed marketing plans be submitted in writing to RIBO for review, prior to launching any new program