About Us

Who We Are

The Financial Institutions Commission of British Columbia (FICOM) is a Vancouver-based regulatory agency within the Ministry of Finance. Our five pillars of responsibility are pension plans, real estate, mortgage brokers, financial institutions (including credit unions, insurance and trust companies) and the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation.

We take a risk-based approach to financial services supervision fitted to dynamic nature of the sectors we oversee. Our primary focus has remained consistent as we´ve evolved over the last 25 years - to safeguard the interests of depositors, policyholders, beneficiaries and pension plan members.

Our History

FICOM was established in 1989 to contribute to the safety and stability of the British Columbia financial sector. In that year, Finance Minister Mel Couvelier brought together two offices, the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation. Minister Couvelier sent a letter of expectations to our first CEO stating:

The mandate of FICOM is to provide equitable and balanced regulation of provincially regulated financial institutions in British Columbia. This includes providing deposit insurance for and managing the stabilization of credit unions.

In that letter, the Minister of Finance stated that FICOM was not to regulate to the point that it would guarantee no financial institution failed:

The government does not have a duty to guarantee that there are never any losses.

The intent was to strike a "difficult balance" between protecting the public while maintaining market efficiency. Regulation was to be equitable, ensuring healthy competition between institutions without advantages or disadvantages being imposed by government:

The mandate I have articulated is meant to convey an objective of ensuring that financial institutions are reasonably prudent, that the risks are acceptable and that the public has appropriate protection.

As originally envisioned, FICOM also had an important role to play in the regulation of the insurance, real estate and mortgage brokering sectors. Since that time, the scope of FICOM has expanded. On April 1, 2003, the Pension Standards Branch joined FICOM. Adding this key pillar brought the administration and enforcement of the Pension Benefits Standards Act within the Commission. The Act governs employment pension plans that have members in British Columbia other than those administered by the federal government.

Starting in 2001, FICOM began to change its regulatory and supervisory approach. The past approach to financial services focused on compliance with statutes and regulation. But significant developments in the financial services industry have changed the nature of the risks and risk management. Like many other financial services regulators in the world, FICOM has now adopted a risk-based approach to financial services supervision. The focus of our supervisory work is to determine the impact of current and potential future events. We continue to make FICOM´s risk-based supervision as dynamic and forward looking as possible to ensure that we can respond effectively to changes in the British Columbian and Canadian financial sectors, now and in the future.

Support Functions

FICOM’s core business areas are supported by the following departments: Records, Systems, Accounting, and the CEO’s office.

These departments provide a wide variety of services including records management, reception, communications, systems support, accounting, budgeting, purchasing, freedom of information requests, policy research, legislative reviews, performance planning and reporting, strategic human resources management, and secretarial support.