Approachability helps get the message out
It’s a fortunate thing Angela Mazerolle enjoys discussing ideas with stakeholders – her mandate to regulate pensions in the province of New Brunswick, coupled with her relatively new responsibility for insurance as well, means there are a lot of stakeholders who want to bend her ear.
Talking to the regulator doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be a very reasonable conversation.
And all of this is occurring at a financial services commission that is little more than a year in existence.
Things have changed significantly in the 12 years she’s spent in her current regulatory role, and in her previous job as assistant superintendent of pensions.
In 2002, pension plans in the province had surpluses, which allowed for contribution holidays. Shifting economics though, markets, and now depressed interest rates, have those in plan administration looking to manage funding deficits.
A Shared Risk Model is being phased in to manage that shortfall. Groups have asked Mazerolle to hold off registering the legislative amendment. Others are threatening legal action against the province.
Work is ongoing, meanwhile, to move pensions and insurance from the Department of Justice, into the new commission. One insurance-related project underway involves clearing up the backlog of applications for new and renewal life insurance licenses in the province.
Interesting about Mazerolle’s handling of things, is her focus on accessibility.
“I try to make myself available in situations where a number of stakeholders are going to be present,” she says. “I find that way I can get my message out, plus be there to meet and talk with people. That way, I feel I make myself approachable. Talking to the regulator doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be a very reasonable conversation.”
Keeping lines of communications open is something she recommends for anyone starting out in the business. Flexibility is another.
“No one goes to law school thinking ‘I really hope to be the pension and insurance regulator,’” she agrees. “Make contacts early. Keep those contacts. Do what you can to mentor, or promote, or assist other women as your career progresses, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. You don’t know where it’s going to lead you.”
Mazerolle, a New Brunswick native, came to her assistant superintendent role two years out of law school in Alberta, after articling, then working as an associate lawyer. Today, she is the superintendent herself, with responsibilities for pensions, and now for insurance, as well.
Dual role not unusual
“The dual role isn’t unusual. Alberta’s regulator of pensions is also their insurance regulator. BC’s pension regulator is also their insurance regulator,” she adds, pointing out that having relationships already established with these peers is helpful in managing her new mandate.
She is also vice-chair of the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) and vice chair of the General Insurance Statistical Agency (GISA), and a member with the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR), the Joint Forum of Financial Market Regulators, and the Canadian Insurance Services Regulatory Organizations (CISRO).
“It helps to build relationships with regulators across the country,” she says. “It’s always interesting to hear from others, and talk about issues developing in other jurisdictions, solutions they’re bringing in, or any changes they see coming. Often times you’ll see the same issues. It’s always interesting to get other people’s perspective.”