“Shaping the Future of Sustainable Finance“
A leading figure in fintech innovation, Commissioner Kelvin Lester Lee of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) makes sure that emerging technologies in the financial industry continue to flourish while pursuing the SEC’s mandate of investor protection.
Having recently won two international awards for leading the Philippine business sector into pursuing innovations in financial technology, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Kelvin Lester K Lee, is nowadays an extremely sought-after speaker and expert on fintech, sustainable finance, Philippine capital markets and corporate law.
Lee is still being celebrated for winning the Gold Stevie Award for Thought Leader of the Year for innovation in the workplace in June 2023, and was also named outstanding FinTech Regulatory and Innovation Leader in the Philippines by the Asian FinTech Academy (AFTA) in March 2023.
Having spoken in countless Philippine and international forums, conferences and events across Cambodia, France, Japan, Singapore, Spain and the UK, Lee has also been interviewed on CNN, ANC, DZMM, The Asset HK and other Philippine media news channels about the role of technology on business sustainability.
Digital Transformation of the SEC
Known as a leading figure in fintech innovation in the country, Lee was instrumental in the digital transformation of the SEC in 2021 when he, alongside the SEC Chairperson and his fellow Commissioners, shifted the largely paper-based company registration system completely online.
Working together with his Information and Communications Technology Department (ICTD), and other Departments within the SEC, they internally developed and launched a suite of SEC electronic filing, application, registration and payment tools namely the eFAST, the eSPAYSEC, the eSPARC, the SEC Check App, and the one-day submission of e-registration of companies called OneSEC.
At the same time, with the support of his Chairperson and his fellow Commissioners, he spearheaded the establishment of new innovative offices within the SEC, specifically the Philippine Fintech Innovation Office (PhiliFINNO) and the International Affairs and Protocol Division (IAPD) which he supervises alongside his current departments that handle capital markets regulation and the issuance of securities and bonds, as well as the ICTD.
His supervision of the SEC’s reforms was instrumental in leading it to win eight corporate governance and ease of doing business-related awards, including four international awards, one of which was awarded by the United Nations Conference and Development.
Catalyst for Change
Appointed Commissioner in 2019, Lee recalls that the physical impositions placed on the SEC by the Covid-19 pandemic were some of the most difficult they ever faced in recent times. The SEC simply could not conduct commercial and business transactions due to their former manual paper-based operation.
Those challenges were overcome in due time but in its wake came a teachable moment.
“This experience,” said Lee, “helped me to learn to be adaptable during VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) times. I learned that one must adapt to the sometimes daily shifting circumstances. One cannot be too conservative or too aggressive, nor can one stick with a particular policy or mindset if the volatile circumstances already dictate a need for change.”
He ascribes his learning to a quote of Bruce Lee’s. “‘Be like water’. Be formless and shifting and adaptable. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped in a certain mindset, otherwise, you or your institution would never be able to survive in today’s volatile world.”
Drafting the Future of Sustainable Finance
It is with this adaptability that led Lee and his team to steer the SEC into becoming the leading institution in sustainable finance in the Philippines and ASEAN.
Being a Board Member of the ASEAN Taxonomy Board, the Co-Chair of the ASEAN Working Committee in Capital Market Development, the Co-Chair of the ASEAN Sustainable Finance Working Group and Chair of the Philippine Sustainable Finance Technical Working Group of the Financial Sector Forum, Lee is currently working on drafting different sustainable finance frameworks, regulations and definitions to ensure sustainable finance will continue unimpeded in the Philippines and the ASEAN region for now and the future.
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