Glen Gowland, the new chairman of the Investment Funds Industry of Canada (IFIC) used his keynote speech Wednesday at IFIC’s annual conference to set out the three major themes he intends to pursue during his term of office and to challenge other investment product providers to match the mutual fund industry when it comes to disclosure.
In addition to serving as chairman of the board at IFIC, Gowland is also managing director & head, Canadian wealth management – distribution, Scotiabank.
“The investment funds industry is a major success story,” Gowland commented. “Canadians have put their faith in our products. We have witnessed excellent growth in our eight decades of innovation and investor support.”
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the mutual funds industry’s entry into the Canadian marketplace as well as the 50th anniversary of IFIC. The industry has grown from 20 funds with assets under management of $540 million in the early 1960s to 2,800 funds with assets of more than $800 billion today.
Gowland noted that the industry’s significant product innovation has been a major factor in its success. Product innovations include funds designed for short-, medium- and long-term needs and offering various levels of risk, as well as some designed to address the needs of investors who have an affinity for ethical funds, socially responsible funds, Sharia-compliant funds, RRSP-eligible families of funds, funds with international features and fund wraps.
He also referred to the critical role that financial advisors play in instilling a savings culture in their clients, and in helping them to make financial decisions that are well-suited to their individual needs.
Gowland noted the importance of providing individuals with clear and meaningful information on all of their financial products so that they can make informed decisions that are best suited to their circumstances.
He also spoke about the industry’s commitment to financial literacy, and about the significant impact that mutual funds have on the Canadian economy by providing affordable pools of capital for Canadian companies to grow, innovate, and create quality jobs. He noted that mutual fund companies invest $460 billion in Canadian companies, large and small.
Following Gowland’s address, industry leaders and regulators heard from featured speakers, including noted Canadian tax expert, Jack Mintz, chairman of the Calgary School of Public Policy; international author and former chief evangelist at Apple, Guy Kawasaki; and Ontario Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Dwight Duncan.