New B.C. financial services regulator has a new boss

Former BMO chief compliance officer will oversee B.C. mortgage brokers as housing market shows signs of correction

The B.C. Financial Services Authority will have a new chief effective July 22.

Blair Morrison has been appointed CEO of a new provincial Crown agency (BCFSA), which will regulate pension plans, B.C. credit unions, insurance and trust companies and mortgage brokers.

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Morrison, who holds a law degree from University of Western Ontario, previously worked as Bank of Montreal’s chief compliance officer, among other titles. He’s also worked for TMX Group, Nortel Networks Corp. and Torys LLP, according to a statement from the Financial Institutions Commssion (FICOM), which will officially come under the umbrella of BCFSA this fall.

Establishing FICOM as a Crown agency was a recommendation from a 2017 independent review after B.C.’s auditor general found deficiencies in the commission.

Previously, FICOM fell under the direct auspices of the Ministry of Finance. One glaring problem found by the auditor general was significant vacancy in staff positions because salaries were capped under government rules. The auditor general found 35% of positions were vacant. The commission now reports that only 15% of positions are vacant.

As well, the ministry directly oversees FICOM’s budget, funded by industry fees, and any excess funds were returned to the ministry at the end of the year. Now, FSA will be able to set its own parameters and keep excess funds to apply to regulation costs.

The auditor general also found existing legislation failed to keep up with international industry standards.

In addition to CEO, Morrison will serve as superintendent of financial institutions, superintendent of pensions, registrar of mortgage brokers and CEO of the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC).

Morrison replaces former CEO Tara Richards, who was paid a salary of $185,647 in 2018. Last year BC Securities Commission CEO Brenda Leong was paid $434,748 but also took home a controversial “retention payment” of $146,133, as provinces take steps to form a national regulator.

The BCFSA board now consists of Stanley Hamilton, Wilma van Norden, Shannon Salter, Michael Grist, Gerry Matier, Jacqueline Kelly, Joel Whittemore, Jo-Ann Hannah, Joanne Hausch and Bruce Howell.


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