Women of Influence: Julie Dickson

By Donna Glasgow | August 18 2014 09:00AM

Julie Dickson

At the helm during turbulent times

Julie Dickson presided over federal regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, during a turbulent period marked by the global financial market crisis and its aftermath.

In her final speech as Superintendent last May, Dickson reflected on her term which she said included “the best of times and the worst of times. It was the worst of times in 2007 with the asset-backed commercial paper market freezing in Canada, and in 2008, when the global financial crisis hit, because there was so much we did not know…”

It is important to focus on our advantages and minimize the disadvantages, the main one being the risk of complacency, given how well we did in the crisis.

The past seven years, however, were also the best of times for regulators at least, she added. “For example, contrary to the period leading up to 2007, there was far less pushback on regulatory issues such as often happens in good times. Institutions responded quickly to initiatives such as having Chief Risk Officers (CROs) report to CEOs, and agreed that CROs needed to be highly skilled and have clout. New initiatives such as risk appetite frameworks were embraced.” Other improvements included better corporate governance, new capital rules from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS). For the first time, the BCBS also moved forward with liquidity and leverage rules. During her term, stress testing “became a serious practice, and clearly has evolved substantially since 2008.”

Dickson remarked that a lot of progress has been made over the years, but warned that the financial industry must remain vigilant. “Don’t be complacent because banks survived the crisis and emerged in good shape. Don’t downplay continuing threats such as housing and cyber-attacks. And do continue the work on stress testing.”

Dickson joined the OSFI 1999, and was assistant Superintendent, Regulation Sector, from January 2000 to June 2006, when she was appointed Deputy Superintendent. In October 2006, she was appointed Acting Superintendent. Prior to her time at OSFI, Ms. Dickson served in both the public and private sectors. She has a Masters of Economics from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours Economics) from the University of New Brunswick. In May 2012, Ms. Dickson received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of New Brunswick, Saint John.

In June, Jeremy Rudin was appointed to replace Dickson as Superintendent.

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