December 20, 2023
When it came to the field of financial services, Harvey Naglie had seen it all in the four decades before he enrolled in OsgoodePD’s part-time Professional LLM in Securities Law.
Over the course of a long and varied career, Naglie had approached the industry from virtually every angle, working as an investment banker, derivatives-trading pioneer, board chair at a TSX-listed company and senior government advisor, among other positions.
But he has managed to find yet another fresh perspective on finance in his latest role: consumer advocate.
Since his 2016 graduation, Naglie has served on investor and consumer advisory panels for both the Ontario Securities Commission and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario and is currently a board member at financial consumer watchdog FAIR Canada.
“I’m trying the best I can to level the playing field in a sector where the rules tend to work very well for industry, and not always so well for the ordinary consumer,” Naglie says. “I credit the LLM for giving me the fundamental appreciation and understanding of securities law and how it is supposed to work. That has made me a better and more informed critic of some of the ill-advised policy initiatives that many of our governments and regulators continue to pursue in this country.”
Despite his accomplishments in the field, Naglie admits his introduction to the financial profession was something of an accident.
After struggling to come up with a thesis outline as part of his work towards a Ph.D. in economics, Naglie’s academic advisor suggested that he might benefit from an industry sabbatical and offered to connect him with a senior economist at Wood Gundy for some work experience outside the ivory tower.
“He told me that one of two things would happen: either I’d find a job I enjoy and carry on living without a Ph.D.; or I’d be so inspired by something in the real world that I had been insulated from for so long, that I’d figure out a thesis topic he could sign off on,” Naglie says. “While I was mentally picking myself off the floor from his comments, it struck me that I didn’t have clue what Wood Gundy was.”
Naglie soon found out, making such a mark on the investment bank that his thesis remained incomplete.
“I developed a love affair for financial services in those first two years,” says Naglie, who switched out of the firm’s economics department to handle capital raising activities for public sector heavyweights including Ontario Hydro and the provinces of Manitoba and New Brunswick, before eventually working his way up to become a director of the business.
In the early 1990s, Naglie joined Bankers Trust as part of the U.S. institution’s attempt to break into the newly de-regulated Canadian banking market. By the end of the decade, he was president of the company’s operations in this country after helping them find a foothold based on a focus on Canada’s fledgling market for derivative products.
When Bankers Trust decided to retreat from Canada, Naglie used the opportunity to make his own return to his academic roots, completing an MBA while he built up a consulting practice assisting organizations in the health sector to make the most of the revenue generation opportunities offered by their real estate holdings.
“I felt like I had unfinished business with the Ph.D.,” he says.
Later, while working as a policy advisor to Ontario’s provincial government, Naglie decided that a securities law LLM would be a good addition to his already extensive CV, after taking part in a statutory review of the legislative and regulatory needs of the OSC.
“It was fascinating work and I became very friendly with a number of the lawyers at the OSC who pointed me in the direction of the LLM,” he says. “I was instantly attracted, because although I had a general understanding of securities law that put me well ahead of most bureaucrats, I had a keen desire to get a deeper and fuller legal understanding of how it all worked.”
According to Naglie, the Osgoode program more than lived up to the billing delivered by his OSC colleagues.
“It was probably the thing that kept me sane for those two years,” he says. “It was a very enriching experience.”
Despite his struggles with the nature and pace of work in the public sector, Naglie says the insights he gained during his decade as a government advisor – combined with the new skills acquired from his securities law LLM – were vital in his new incarnation as a consumer rights advocate.
“When you’re confronted with the reality that securities regulation is a product of good intentions and political reality, it puts you on alert whenever a new rule or regulation is proposed to take a good hard look and disentangle the good intentions from the possible less-good outcomes,” Naglie explains. “I essentially had the opportunity to see how the sausage made. And while it didn’t cause me to give up eating sausage forever, it sure did encourage me to read the ingredients on the package.”
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