Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 13, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why BC Financial Services Authority / BCFSA was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
- BCFSA offers professional development opportunities for individuals at every stage of their career, from tuition subsidies for those interested in continuing their education to career planning services and leadership development programs for those interested in advancement
- BCFSA maintains a generous top-up program for new parents, ranging from 35 weeks to a full year of paid leave, and provides flexible work hours to help employees balance work and their personal commitments
BC Financial Services Authority is creating its future
The opportunity to work for a new Crown agency was too good to pass up for Saskia Tolsma. In 2020, she left a fulfilling job in Ottawa to lead stakeholder engagement at BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). In 2022, Tolsma’s role increased to include accountability for policy matters.
In line with best practices, the provincial government announced its intention in 2019 to create a new Crown agency to oversee B.C.’s financial services sector. BCFSA was officially launched on Nov. 12, 2019, with a focus on ensuring confidence in the sector.
BCFSA’s accountabilities have continued to grow over the years, including the integration of B.C.’s real estate regulators into BCFSA in 2021. BCFSA now oversees pension plans, mortgage brokers, real estate services, real estate development marketing, financial institutions (credit unions and insurance and trust companies) and B.C.’s deposit insurance regime.
With its focus on the overall financial services sector, departments are now organized by function, such as policy and market conduct, rather than by the different segments that make up the sector, Tolsma says.
“We’re tearing down silos and building something new,” she says. “There’s new leadership and a lot of fresh thinking about the organization, about what we do, why we do it and how we do it.”
The opportunity to create a new department within the organization played a key role in Tolsma’s decision to leave a career with the federal Finance Department in Ottawa. She is the first to hold her position, which didn’t exist until she joined.
BCFSA has a broad mandate, ranging from policy to education to licensing to discipline. As a result, it hires diverse individuals with expertise in fields such as law, corporate accounting, investigation, information management, policy development and communications.
Tolsma says that means those committed to public service have many ways to make a difference. Further opportunities to protect consumers will also emerge as BCFSA evolves to keep pace with a rapidly changing financial services sector in B.C. and beyond, she adds.
“We’re going to need all sorts of different competencies,” she says. “You want to apply quantum analysis? Investigate the future of cryptocurrency? Great – go for it!”
Investigator Candice Duncan has also experienced BCFSA’s evolution first-hand. She was working for the then Real Estate Council of British Columbia (RECBC) in 2016 when the province turned the self-regulatory agency into a government body. The restructuring was the first in a series of measures that ultimately resulted in BCFSA’s current makeup.
“At RECBC, long-time employees said it felt like family,” Duncan says. “This has continued at BCFSA with a workplace where everyone is still very caring and supportive of one another.”
Duncan, who works in compliance and enforcement – until recently real estate market conduct – says she can also now get help from colleagues with diverse types of expertise.
She also has the flexibility to do her job, while maintaining work-life balance. As much of BCFSA’s transformation occurred during the pandemic, BCFSA has adopted a flexible model where employees can work at home or in the office. Duncan works out of the Vancouver head office, for instance, while Tolsma is in Victoria.
Duncan adds that while she’s not expected in the office for routine work, employees are sometimes asked to come in for various team-building events.
Tolsma explains why: “Teambuilding,” she says, “is mission critical.”