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Originally published: August 18, 2016
[Editor’s note: Monica Kowal left her position at the Ontario Securities CommissionOntario Securities Commission An independent Crown corporation that is responsible for regulating the capital markets in Ontario. Its mandate is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair and efficient capital markets and confidence in capital markets, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic…+ read full definition in August 2017.]
Monica Kowal is the Vice-Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSCOSC See Ontario Securities Commission.+ read full definition), a position she’s held since July 2014 after nearly a decade of work as OSC General Counsel and an extensive career in the private sectorSector A part of the economy where businesses provide the same or related products or services. May also refer to a group.+ read full definition. The Investor Office sat down with her to discuss the OSC’s priorities, the issues facing investors and the importance of considering the investor perspective.
On her past involvement with the OSC…
I joined the OSC in 2004 as General Counsel. Before that, I had been in private practice for 15 years, during which I worked with the Commission as an external advisor.
I have always been passionate about Ontario’s capital marketsCapital markets Where people buy and sell investments.+ read full definition and investor outcomes, and felt that the OSC’s mandate of providing investor protection and fostering fair and efficient capital markets was an important statement about how a regulator should serve the public. There’s a social relevance to the work that we do. The OSC’s work has a real impact for families and their savings.
On the importance of the investor perspective…
Investor voices matter! We hear from people in the industry all the time, but we really want investors to shareShare A piece of ownership in a company. A share does not give you direct control over the company’s daily operations. But it does let you get a share of profits if the company pays dividends.+ read full definition their thoughts with the OSC as well. The investing world can be quite confusing; it’s not always as clear as we would like it to be. The Investor Office’s new Re: Investing site is a great platform for investors to ask questions and connect with the OSC, and I’ve been very pleased to see many people already engaging with us.
On the OSC’s investor priorities…
The OSC is strongly committed to delivering on its mandate to protect investors and is proposing a number of initiatives to enhance investor protection. A key goal of ours is to improve the alignment of the interests of advisors and firms with those of investors.
Investor profiles are also diverse and this raises complex challenges but ones we must address. We want to connect our investor-oriented research, outreach and educational initiatives to the OSC’s policy-making and operational activities to achieve better outcomes for investors. The Investor Office will play a big role in this process as it engages with all OSC Branches to encourage greater consideration of the investor issues that are really at the core of everything that we do.
As well, it’s crucial for the OSC to keep pace with the ways that investors now access information. People are turning to the internet and social media to make investments and get advice. Almost everyone is going online to manage their savings and investments. I’m excited to have the Investor Office bring innovative ideas and ways of thinking that further establish the OSC as a modern regulator with a comprehensive strategy that allows us to reach investors across all channels.
On the creation of the Investor Office…
The creation of the Investor Office is a continuation of the OSC’s emphasis on putting the interests of investors first. We already had a number of initiatives underway, such as the creation of the Investor Advisory Panel and the funding of FAIR Canada. Establishing the Investor Office brought many of these initiatives together, while also creating new ones, led by a dedicated team embedded within the OSC.
All OSC Branches are focused on incorporating the investor perspective into their various activities. Over time, we realized the potential of having an internal office that’s focused on research, policy, education and outreach, which provides valuable insight into the investor perspective as we work toward fulfilling our important mandate.
A previous version of this article appeared on November 27, 2015. The article has been changed from a previous version that reflected her then-role as Acting Chair.