Tougher rules sought for financial advisers

For investor advocates in Canada, complaints about inappropriate investments and difficulties navigating the system to seek redress are typical – and regulators report their numbers are increasing, wrote The Globe and Mail March 31.

The Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights and the Hennick Centre for Business & Law at York University banded together last week to hold a conference in Toronto on the idea of introducing a higher professional obligation – called a fiduciary standard – for investment advisers in Canada, hoping to spur regulators to consider reforms.

A fiduciary standard (already the norm for doctors, lawyers and some other professionals) is a legal requirement that an adviser must put a client’s interests first. That includes avoiding conflicts of interest and making the best recommendations for the client even if it means lower fees for the adviser.

Securities lawyer Edward Waitzer, director of the Hennick Centre and Jarislowsky Dimma Mooney Chair in Coprorate Governance in the Schulich School of Business at York University and Osgoode Hall Law School, said a new fiduciary standard in Canada would especially benefit investors before cases ever hit the legal system.

He believes the standard would clarify professional duties for advisers, leading to better advice in the first place. “Having some sound principles to underlie the relationship might be a good starting point,” he said last week.

Lives behind the crimes

When York graduate student Rai Reece (BA Hons. ’97, MES ’00) pays a visit to a young female prisoner, she often sees someone who shouldn’t be there, wrote The Barrie Examiner March 31 in a story about her talk at the Mobilize Barrie Conference.

Not because their crime is excusable, but because somewhere along the way the system or their community has failed them. “I started working with at-risk youth at age 18, working with only young women and now adult women, as well,” said Reece, a doctoral candidate in York’s School of Women’s Studies. “What I’ve learned about these young women is there are always core issues or factors that impact their lives and drive them to this lifestyle. Those factors can be abuse, racism, sexism or even peer pressure.”

“There’s a lot of talk of an influx of girls becoming more violent and joining gangs, but that’s just public fear and perception,” Reece said. “Statistics show there’s actually a decreasing number. But, we are seeing a large trend of young girls engaging in sexual activity very early and they are seen as bad girls for what’s being called deviant behaviour.”

Reece said if authorities and counsellors would only start asking more in-depth questions of these girls before they are charged and incarcerated, they might find underlying issues that these girls need help with to stop their outlandish behaviour.

“If we don’t address systemic issues or crimes of poverty, these young people will quickly move from the youth justice system into the federal system,” Reece said. “It doesn’t excuse their crimes or violence, but some of these young offenders never really had a chance at a good life.”

Reece also spoke on the dysfunction of the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). “Penalizing youth for non-violent crimes and putting them in jail won’t make them better people,” she said. “The YCJA is not working. It’s not keeping youth out of the federal system.”

Film shows the faces of diabetes

It’s probably not the message people who have just been diagnosed with diabetes will want to embrace, but it’s a reality they must be prepared to face, wrote, a Toronto Star Web site, on March 26.

The opening scenes of I Have a Little Sugar, a documentary about diabetes and ethnicity, show John Munroe, 56, an aboriginal man from Saskatchewan, explaining how his life changed radically after he was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 20.

The film also presents Dennis Raphael, a professor in the School of Health Management & Policy in York’s Faculty of Health, refuting the genetic and biomedical explanation for the rise in the disease. Raphael says the best predictor for a person living with diabetes is to ask if he or she is unable to work, of low income and living under a lot of stress, as many newcomers to Canada are.

I Have a Little Sugar by Lalita Krishna airs March 28, at 7pm on OMNI 2 in Tamil. The movie shows Apr. 4 at the same time on the same station, in English.

Milevsky warns against instant mortgage gratification

The Canadian government has been wrestling with the dilemma of making home mortgages readily available to stimulate the economy, while at the same time preventing a glut of housing foreclosures because payments cannot be maintained, wrote Canwest News Service March 31. The result has been a rash of changes in mortgage restrictions, and some new incentives. Interest-only loans meant people with a house falling in value could quickly owe more on their home than it was worth.

“If you couldn’t afford five per cent down or have a conventional mortgage because your gross debt-service ratio was greater than 30 per cent, reducing your payments means you’re going to pay for your house three times,” said Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “It’s instant gratification.”

Schulich grad is named best young journalist in Canada

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale (BBA Spec. Hons. ’08) has been named Canada’s best young journalist on a large-circulation newspaper, wrote the Toronto Star March 31.

Dale, who turned 25 on Sunday, won the 25,000-and-over circulation category in the Edward Goff Penny awards run by the Canadian Newspaper Association.

A 2008 graduate of York University’s Schulich School of Business, Dale joined the Star as a summer intern in 2007 and was hired fulltime in September 2008.

Shareholders issue manifesto

The country’s most powerful shareholders’ rights group is riding the momentum it gained from getting Canada’s biggest financial institutions to give shareholders a “say on pay”, releasing a manifesto on how companies in Canada should govern themselves, wrote the National Post March 31.

The Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, which comprises more than 40 of the country’s top pension funds and institutional money managers that oversee more than $1.3 trillion, said its 13-point “best practices” guidelines will help build “high performance boards”.

Richard Leblanc, a professor of corporate governance in York’s School of Administrative Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, said that since the financial crisis hit in 2008, there has been some “significant developments in terms of legislation and codes in the US, United Kingdom, South Africa, the European Union and Australia. Canada is noticeably absent from the table.”

In the UK for example, every few years boards must seek an external assessment of how the board is doing. “I think that’s a really good idea,” said Leblanc.

On air

  • Norm Gledhill, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health and a fitness expert who tests NHL players, spoke about the return of 48-year-old defenceman Chris Chelios to the National Hockey League, on CBC-TV March 30.
  • William Dimma, honorary member of the York University Board of Governors and former dean of York’s Faculty of Administrative Studies, and Professor Emeritus James Gillies, also a former dean of what is now the Schulich School of Business, spoke about budget deficits and how governments will get out of debt, on BNN-TV March 30.