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Originally published: March 29, 2017
Tyler Fleming is the Director of the Investor Office 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 (OSCOSC See Ontario Securities Commission.+ read full definition). We recently sat down with Tyler to discuss his background, the role of the Investor Office, his current priorities and the importance of the investor perspective.
I joined the OSC in July 2015. As the first Director of the new Investor Office, one of my initial tasks was to get us ready for our launch in October of that year, which was a significant undertaking and its success was critical to our establishment here at the OSC.
Prior to joining the OSC I spent several years at the Ombudsman for Banking Services and InvestmentsOmbudsman for Banking Services and Investments A national, independent and not-for-profit organization that helps resolve disputes between consumers and financial services firms when they can’t come to a resolution on their own.+ read full definition (OBSIOBSI See Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.+ read full definition), where I got to see how securities regulation translates into the actual experience of both investors and the industry. Prior to that, I spent several years at a well-known consulting firm in Toronto working on various projects, several relating to financial services. This included what was the then-largest proposed merger and acquisition transactionTransaction The process where one person or party buys goods or services from another for money. Examples include taking money out of an account, buying something with a credit card or taking out a loan.+ read full definition in Canadian history.
In my spare time I like to volunteer, including spending several years, as Treasurer and then Chair, at a City of Toronto agency that provides a variety of programs to the public, including seniors and newcomer services. I also served as a member of the City of Toronto Seniors Strategy Expert Panel, which gave me additional perspective on some of the issues we’re working on here at the OSC related to older investors.
I grew up in Ottawa. My math-teacher dad and stay-at-home mom are the ones who taught me and my brother and sister about the importance of understanding money concepts and the value of hard work and perseverance at an early age. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, but I sure do now.
On the role of the Investor Office…
The Investor Office sets the strategic direction and leads the OSC’s efforts in investor engagement, education, outreach and research. We also bring the investor perspective to policy-making and operations, provide leadership in the area of behavioural insights and play a key role in the oversight of OBSI.
We launched with an ambitious agenda but the response we’ve received thus far tells us we’re on the right track. It’s been quite heartening to feel the enthusiasm that has greeted our work throughout the entire OSC and amongst stakeholders as we launched and established ourselves.
We published our Activity Report for 2015-16 just after the Investor Office’s one-year anniversary, and it gives a good overview of our activities and accomplishments to-date. We formed new partnerships with more than 30 organizations, established a new Seniors Expert Advisory Committee, helped expand the OSC’s research capabilities and introduced several innovative tools for investors and the industry. Investors used and participated in our education and outreach activities in significantly greater numbers.
I think it’s important to note that the OSC is the only securities regulatorSecurities regulator A government agency that enforces the securities act in jurisdiction it has authority over. This act is made up of laws that establish rules for issuing and trading securities. The Ontario Securities Commission is the securities regulator for Ontario.+ read full definition in Canada to have an office like the Investor Office. Maureen [Jensen, OSC Chair and CEO], Leslie [Byberg, OSC Executive Director and CAO] and the members of the Commission demonstrated real vision and leadership in creating a prominent space in the OSC’s organizational structure for a new regulatory operations branch dedicated to investor issues. None of what we’ve accomplished since our launch would have been possible without their efforts and ongoing support.
On his current priorities…
Several of our priorities, though not all, are articulated in the OSC’s Draft Statement of Priorities that was recently published. These include developing the OSC’s overall seniors strategy, continuing to build the OSC’s understanding and capacity in the behavioural insights area following the publication of our Behavioural Insights Report and working with the OBSI Joint Regulators Committee to develop a response to recommendations that came out of the independent evaluation of OBSI’s investmentInvestment An item of value you buy to get income or to grow in value.+ read full definition mandate. Advancing retail investor protection, engagement and education through the Investor Office is a priority for the OSC, which is a good indicator of the importance and value that the organization places on meeting the needs of investors.
In addition to the initiatives included in the Draft Statement of Priorities, we are expanding and modernizing our investor education and outreach activities and contributing to projects at the international level through the International Organization of Securities CommissionsCommissions What you pay to a broker or agent for their services. Often called a “sales commission”. For example, you pay a fee to someone who buys or sell stocks or real estate for you.+ read full definition’ Committee on Retail Investors. Finally, we have been busy this past year working on a redevelopment of our award-winning investor website GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca to refresh it as well as make it mobile-friendly. With over half of web traffic now occurring on handheld devices, we recognized that there is a huge investor segment who we are not currently reaching as well as we could. Look for us to launch the new website in early summer.
On the importance of the investor perspective…
The investor experience has changed significantly over the last 20-plus years. More and more, people are expected to take the leading role in saving for their retirements, and at the same time markets have grown increasingly complex. In addition, regulators have come to realize that reforms were needed to improve the relationship investors have with their advisors. As this evolution has occurred, it became obvious that investors needed to have their voices heard as part of the process in order to ensure proper regulatory responses, given that our dual mandate is investor protection and fair and efficient capital marketsCapital markets Where people buy and sell investments.+ read full definition. In order for this to happen, there needed to be a better interface between investors and securities regulators.
That’s why the Investor Office was created, to be a multidisciplinary team that works on everything from investor policy and research to investor education and outreach and that acts as that interface.
Other groups also play a role, such as the OSC’s independent Investor Advisory Panel, which solicits and represents the views of investors on the policy and rule-making initiatives and whose work the OSC continues to support.
Any final thoughts?
If there’s one thought I would leave investors with it’s this: know that your input is wanted, valued, understood and can make a difference in the OSC’s work. At the end of the day, our goal is to achieve better investor outcomes, and we know we can’t do it without hearing from you.