Canadian best practices take centre stage at financial conference in China

Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009
Author: Investment Executive

Professional financial education system fundamental to healthy marketplace, Wilton says.

An increased focus on education and proficiency of brokers, planners and advisors must be part of the regulatory changes to come out of the current world financial crisis, according to CSI, Canada’s leading financial educator.

This message was one of the central themes discussed at a symposium being held for leading members of China’s securities industry earlier this month in Boao, China. The symposium was co-hosted by CSI and the Securities Association of China (SAC), and brought together representatives of some of Canada’s leading financial institutions and more than 150 executives from China’s securities industry to share ideas and discuss the recovery challenges now faced by both countries’ financial industries.

“The resiliency of Canada’s financial system has put us in the spotlight. China is looking to our systems and regulations to help to develop their own best practices and risk management programs,” said Roberta Wilton, president and CEO of CSI. “Response from the Chinese industry and regulators to the event was extremely positive. They found the information shared by the Canadian delegation to be valuable, thoughtful, and thorough.”

CSI has been working closely with China’s securities regulators as the country’s securities industry emerges onto the world stage.

As regulators place a greater focus on risk management, one of the areas they must look into is the education and proficiency of front-line, client-facing, financial professionals in their own country, the CSI says.

“The client/advisor relationship is one of the points of highest risk. This is where things go off the rails most often, and where liability is most likely. The advisor is the primary link between products, markets, clients and the firm. When that link breaks, risk escalates,” Wilton added.

She pointed to the Portus hedge fund debacle as an example of what can occur if advisors do not fully understand what they are selling.

“What seemed self-evident and basic is not anymore. Timely, responsive and pragmatic training is pivotal as a precursor and not an after thought to market development,” Wilton said.

She urged investment firms, under pressure to cut cost, not to discount the value of training that goes beyond the minimum regulatory requirements.

The Canadian delegation headed by Wilton consisted of an impressive cross section of industry leaders and experts from the Canadian financial services sector. Also on hand were senior management members and experts from Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotia Capital, National Bank as well as consultants from the McKinsey & Company and Manchester Consulting.

“CSI has played an important educational role in China’s industry over the last 10 years,” said Wilton. “Our new Shanghai office is a sign of our commitment to continue our education partnership with the SAC and the Chinese financial industry, as it continues to integrate its markets into the world economy,” she concluded.