The four-year term of Cathie Armour – one of the commissioners at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) – is scheduled to end in June. The organisation has about 1,800 staff members, including 215 solicitors and a busy registry team that collects nearly $800 million in fees on behalf of the government each year. There’s also an enforcement team, which achieved 22 criminal convictions and jailed 18 people last year, including Oliver Curtis for conspiracy to insider trade. ASIC has offices around Australia and regulates 2.3 million companies. It also runs the MoneySmart website, which offers more than 700 web pages of consumer information aimed at boosting financial literacy among adults and children.
Armour, 56, is a down-to-earth former banking lawyer who grew up on a farm near Canberra. She became interested in law and economics during a youth exchange program in the US, which she spent in Maryland, near the hub of the US Government in Washington, DC. Armour fondly remembers her posting to an intellectually minded host family with a father who was a Harvard maths PhD working in a US government agency, which she says opened her eyes tremendously.
Armour wouldn’t comment on recent media speculation that she might be in line for the top job at ASIC, saying that appointments to the Commission are a matter for government. Armour met her husband, a legally trained economist who works with the NSW Government, at university, and the pair worked in corporate banking in Wall Street at the height of the “greed is good era” in the mid-80s. They have two children, an artist and a law student, and share a love of fitness and skiing.
“I am a morning jogger and am usually up at 6.30am to jog for 40 minutes at Bondi. What better way to wake up in the morning than jogging along the cliffs of Sydney’s beaches? It just reminds you what a wonderful world we live in.
Part of the job is representing the organisation. Every day we are talking to the people we regulate or someone from the broader community to explain what we do and how it might help them.