Jean-Guy Desjardins, CEO of Montreal-based Fiera Capital Corp. is Finance et Investissement‘s 2013 Financial Person of the Year.
Finance et Investissement, the sister publication of Investment Executive, announced it’s Top 25 most influential people in Quebec’s financial services industry at an event held Tuesday evening in Montreal.
Desjardins says he is honoured and flattered to be chosen as the Financial Person of the Year for a second time – he was first given the distinction in 2010. However, for Desjardins, Fiera’s success is a team effort and not one he can take credit for himself.
“I’m just the representative of an organization that’s been quite successful the last ten years with a lot of momentum especially in the last five,” he says. “I just happen to be benefitting from the great work and the great performance to our clients from [the four hundred people within Fiera].”
Desjardins made it to the top of this year’s list for leading Fiera through a year of strong growth. In 2013, Fiera’s assets under management (AUM) increased to $75 billion from $57 billion. This jump in AUM was in large part the result of Fiera’s four acquisitions in 2013, including certain assets from Toronto-based GMP Investment Management. (See Investment Executive, Fiera buys assets, February 2013).
Fiera’s other 2013 acquisitions include UBS Global Asset Management (Canada), and two U.S.-based firms, Bel Air Investment Advisors LLC and Wilkinson O’Grady & Co.
Desjardins says the decision to focus so heavily on strategic growth was in large part due to the need to stay competitive in the institutional, retail and high net worth sectors in Canada and the U.S. within a relatively short period of time.
“To be competitive in that business looking down the road, 10, 15, 20 years, you will need to have North American scale,” he says. “Otherwise I don’t think you will be able to compete in terms of having the means to have the resources, talent, the technology that will be required to be competitive in this industry.”
A company that has North American scale needs roughly $150 billion or more in assets under management (AUM), says Desjardins, a target Fiera intends to reach in five years. In order to reach that goal, the Fiera team plans to grow the company’s AUM by $50 billion organically, he says, with the remaining assets coming from acquisitions.
“That’s not on its own a very aggressive acquisition program in fact…it’s much less aggressive then what we’ve done in the last six years,” says Desjardin. “We’re not on a course where we will buy everything that comes up.”
Since the inception of the Top 25 awards in 2010, a panel of industry members and experts, including editors and publishers of TC Media, select the Top 25 honourees and the Financial Person of the Year.
Last year’s Financial Person of the Year was Louis Vachon, president and CEO of Montreal-based National Bank Group. (See Investment Executive, National Bank CEO honoured, February 5, 2013.)