During the past several weeks, there have been developments regarding the status of the Marketing Research & Intelligence Association (MRIA). The most notable of which is the conclusion of its bankruptcy proceedings and having now re-emerged in its role as the single authoritative voice of the marketing research industry in Canada. The MRIA has recently opened its 2019 membership renewal drive and has received many membership registrations and inquiries to join, this includes former MRIA members and first-time members from across Canada.
There have been questions posted through social media and throughout other channels. This FAQ is meant to address a number of those. If you have any other questions not answered here, please contact Lee Robinson, the Executive Director and former Compliance Officer of the MRIA via email: email@example.com.
Q: What led up to the MRIA filing for bankruptcy protection on August 3rd 2018?
A: In July 2018, it became aware to the MRIA Board of Directors that several budget issues including the Annual Conference in Vancouver held earlier that month. Although details are unclear of how/why, the Bankruptcy filing shows a shortfall of $160,000 total, this triggered an immediate vote of the Board to seek insolvency protection and shut down the MRIA. The website, and other digital assets have remained live and operational throughout and in control of the bankruptcy trustees.
What we know is that a $160,000 shortfall may have been managed by an Association that had not accrued long-term debt and that had a plan meet this financial challenge. What we do not know, is why there was no consultation with the broader membership and any plan to halt the MRIA’s closure.
On the morning of July 30th, 2018, Members of the MRIA had been sent a memo stating that the MRIA was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations, effective immediately.
Q: What happened during the bankruptcy protection process?
A: The legislation protects some of the details, all the public information can be found here. It is our understanding that the Trustee will file additional details with the courts in the appropriate time.
In the Fall of 2018, the Trustee established a fair and open bidding process for the acquisition of the MRIA and several of its assets. A group of Canadian Insights professionals came together to reinstate the MRIA, the CMRP, the Gold Seal Certification and other components of the Association. This took place on November 30th 2018 and two groups submitted offers, the first was by members of Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC), and the second was a group led by the Presidents of Mainstreet Research & Campaign Research.
On December 10th 2018, the latter group was informed it was the successful bidder. The initial closing was supposed to take place in late December. Several legal challenges delayed the closing of the sale until late March 2019.
Q: How can we ensure this will not happen again?
A: A number of changes have been made to the bylaws of the MRIA to ensure this will not reoccur: First, a non-insolvency clause has been added to ensure that this cannot be considered without consultation of the broader membership. Second, a dominance provision is now part of the voting process to ensure that no single firm can vote unilaterally in its’ interest against the interests of all members. Third, an updated contingency fund clause that ensures a certain percentage of every membership dollar is kept in reserve for emergencies. We will look to ratify these at the Members Meeting on April 17th.
Q: What steps has the MRIA, the new ownership group and related parties taken to ensure that personal and private data is protected?
Q: Individuals have suggested that the Standards of the MRIA do not belong to the MRIA, is that true?
A: No, the MRIA Standards are an adoption of the Internationally recognized ESOMAR standards, these belong to the MRIA. This is a misunderstanding of the bankruptcy process and legislation. All claims for financial or material assets were dealt with accordingly by the Trustee. The Standards of the MRIA remain as they always, available here on the website.
Q: Individuals have posted comments questioning the overall validity of the new iteration of the MRIA as a professional association, is that true?
A:. The MRIA entered bankruptcy protection on August 3rd 2018, the website and all other digital operations remained active in the control of the Trustee. The MRIA non-profit registration with Industry Canada is and has been active throughout the process. This will be updated at the April 17th, 2019 General Meeting. A change to the Board, as has happened repeatedly, does not constitute a dissolution of the organization.
Q: What is the role of Mainstreet Research & Campaign Research in the MRIA?
A: Mainstreet and Campaign were part of a group that won an open bidding process for the assets of the MRIA. While we thank the Board and members of the other bidding group for their efforts and we appreciate that the process was a long and difficult, but believe the best course of action for helping our industry move forward is to accept the circumstances.
Q: What about the CMRP certification, what will happen to it?
A: The CMRP certification back in the hands of the MRIA and rest assured, your CMRP is recognized in Canada. We are committed to its protection and preservation. Only the MRIA owns the CMRP and can administer it.
Q: What about the Gold Seal?
A: The MRIA is preserving the Gold Seal and we will continue to administer the Gold Seal process. While we appreciate that other groups have recognized the value of the Gold Seal by extending an exemption to former Gold Seal firms, others can no longer use the “Gold Seal” designation, it is the exclusive intellectual property of the MRIA. We are extending an exemption on the audit requirements for former MRIA Gold Seal firms until June 1st 2019 and will be accepting new Gold Seal applications from member firms immediately.
Q: What about the survey registration system?
A: The survey registration system that provides research validation and verification for clients and the general public is now operational and will be upgraded and modernized to meet the needs of all MRIA member firms. The MRIA provides a valuable service to public regulators by fielding inquiries and complaints that ensure the quality and accuracy of market research and look forward to continuing that role.
Q: What are the goals of the MRIA and the new Board?
A: Several individuals representing market research firms helped to draft a set of basic principles that would help towards achieving goals of having a more open, transparent and fiscally prudent, member-driven Association, they can be found here. The members will vote for the ratification of these principles, bylaws and other operations at the April 17th general meeting.
Things are in flux and there will be challenges in the early days. The MRIA will look to continue operating as is until the board has been finalized. The board will begin work on a new vision, and strategic plan, but only after consultation with the members at large.