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University of Toronto creates position for first research chair for investor rights in North Americ

As interest in startups and entrepreneurship grows, so too does the interest from investors grow with it. As Shopify’s IPO last year shows, startups can be high risk, but they can also have potentially high gains.

So it’s fitting that the University of Toronto has established North America’s first research chair for investor rights, officially called the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance, which is named after the author of the Report of the Attorney General’s Committee on Securities Legislation in Ontario that laid the foundation for Canada’s modern securities regulatory regime.  Taking the position will be Anita Anand, a corporate law and governance expert.

One of the purposes of securities regulation is to ensure that investors are protected; currently, the University says, Canada’s securities regulatory system has historically been criticized for ineffectively deterring financial market abuses, and isn’t set up to address the rise of equity crowdfunding. Anand says that she will be examining the concept of investor protection from the standpoint of both investor rights and remedies.

“Regarding startup and early stage firms, one of the key issues is whether there are sufficient investor protection mechanisms in place for retail investors when they are investing non-public companies,” says Anand. “These companies do not typically compile the comprehensive disclosure that public companies issue. Therefore, when discussing issues such as crowdfunding, for example, regulatory oversight  becomes ever so important in terms of investor protection.”

Anand’s research expertise focuses on capital markets regulation and corporate governance, capital-raising techniques, and systemic risk, as well as legal ethics and the corporation. She served as the academic director of the Centre for the Legal Profession, and in this role has led the development of its new Program on Ethics in Law and Business.

She says that Canada’s securities regulatory system is in the midst of change, as there is currently a proposal to create a cooperative regulator on the table. “One of the advantages of the proposal is that securities regulation will be streamlined across a number of provinces and therefore investor rights are more likely to be consistent across these jurisdictions,” she said. “One area in which reform is needed  is in the area of enforcement; in particular, there is a need to harmonize enforcement regimes across provinces. I will continue to research the costs and benefits of an alternative, streamlined enforcement regime.”
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