Catherine “Kiki” Delaney, founder and president of Toronto-based Delaney Capital Management Ltd., will be the second woman to be inducted into the Investment Industry Association of Canada‘s (IIAC) Hall of Fame this month.
This isn’t the first time Delaney has been honoured with a significant award. In 2006, she was appointed a member of the Order of Canada, recognizing her both for being one of the first women in Canada to launch an investment-counselling firm and for her philanthropic and volunteer work.
Delaney, who has worked in the investment industry for more than four decades, regards the IIAC honour as one of the most significant of her career. She follows in the footsteps of her late friend, Jalynn Bennett, former director of the Bank of Canada, who was inducted into the IIAC Hall of Fame posthumously in 2015.
“I feel, in many ways, that the honour is for women in the investment business in general and not [just] for me,” Delaney says. “And that’s a good thing. There are a lot of women who toil in the investment industry at different levels, and we should all be recognized. I regard this award as being a recognition for all of us.”
Delaney launched Delaney Capital in 1992. The boutique investment firm serves high net-worth individuals and families, institutions and foundations. The firm’s portfolio managers focus on North American equities and fixed-income securities, and its website extols the firm’s research-driven, long-only investment strategy that assumes below-average risk. Delaney Capital’s 20-person team serves about 270 client relationships and requires a minimum of $2 million in investible assets.
Delaney’s entrepreneurial turn in founding the firm was inspired, in part, by her German-born father, who emigrated to Canada from Amsterdam after the Second World War. Finally settling in Winnipeg, Delaney’s hometown, her father built his own brokerage business. Although Delaney didn’t expect to go into the investment industry herself – she studied political science at the University of Manitoba – she says she grew up with a fairly good understanding of the business.
“I used to joke that I could tell you all of the different bear markets – and all of the bull markets, too – by my Dad’s mood,” she says.
After Delaney earned her poli-sci degree, she began her career in the investment business as a sales assistant with Merrill Lynch Canada Inc. in 1970. She quickly realized the investment business was a good fit for her: she liked that the industry was constantly changing and required a vast field of knowledge that “all came into play in terms of the pricing of markets and the pricing of individual securities.”
During the early 1970s, there were few professional opportunities for women in the investment industry, but Delaney found mentorship and encouragement from successful stockbroker Ellen Ripstein, a Jewish woman born in Germany who left that country after the Nazis came to power. Ripstein emigrated to Canada from Amsterdam alongside Delaney’s family. The Winnipeg Free Press noted in its obituary of Ripstein that she was Canada’s first female stockbroker.
Delaney decided to move to Toronto, hoping to find more opportunities in the centre of Canada’s financial services sector. In 1972, she joined MGF Management Ltd. as a stock analyst shortly before that firm was purchased by Guardian Capital Group Ltd.
“When I began [in the investment industry], there were very few women in positions that weren’t clerical positions,” Delaney says. “As I looked around the landscape at that point, there were very few female traders, very few salespeople, one or two analysts, probably no portfolio managers and probably nobody in corporate finance who was female. It was a very different time.”
Delaney’s approach from the beginning was to work hard, which often required long hours, establishing a network by building relationships with talented professionals and distinguishing herself from the pack in some way – the last a feat that came easily for her.
“[Being female] was a great advantage for me,” she says, “because at that point, there were not that many of us. So, I was differentiated right from the get-go.”
Which isn’t to say working within the male-dominated field wasn’t without its challenges. Often, business gatherings and company meetings were held at private clubs that did not accept female members, so Delaney would have to join the meetings inconspicuously by entering the building through a back entrance or side door.
“There was an element of being very irritated by that,” Delaney says. “But I also had to accept it because if I wanted to get ahead, I had to go to those meetings.”
Fortunately, the environment within Guardian Capital’s offices was egalitarian and Delaney believed there were no restrictions within the firm that prevented her from progressing in her career. As well, she says, several professionals at that firm mentored her.
After 13 years at Guardian Capital, Delaney joined Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. in 1985 on the private-client side as a partner and portfolio manager. Seven years later, she launched Delaney Capital.
Prior to Delaney’s departure from Gluskin Sheff, Nancy MacKellar, a colleague who then was a partner and vice president of finance with Gluskin Sheff, asked if she could join Delaney at her new firm. Delaney said yes and, within two months, the team of two had expanded to five. MacKellar is still with Delaney’s firm as partner and executive vice president.
When Delaney started up her firm, she feared no clients would appear: “I thought that I’d be like the ‘Maytag repair man,’ whom nobody ever called. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.”
Delaney acquires new clients through word of mouth and referrals. The firm has avoided using advertising or client events to attract new business, instead focusing on building strong relationships with clients. That said, the firm hired a dedicated client-development professional three years ago, who has helped to bring business into the firm.
Delaney takes pride in the level of trust she has built with her clients by communicating with them regularly. She maintains an ongoing dialogue with clients to ensure she understands their needs and aspirations and to monitor any changes to their risk tolerance.
Delaney still takes a modest attitude about her firm’s success, attributing its growth, in part, to good fortune: “I happened to start Delaney Capital in 1992; 1993 was one of the best years for the stock market in Canada.”
Inside and outside the office, Delaney still relies on other successful professionals to bring out her best attributes. Fifteen years ago, she formed a support network of six professional female entrepreneurs by inviting them to join her on a trip.
That group, whose members now call themselves the Cinderellas, formed a strong bond and meet in Bermuda every spring in addition to gathering five to six other times a year.
Delaney’s husband of more than 40 years, Ian Delaney, is perhaps best known as the retired former CEO of mining firm Sherritt International Corp.
Delaney has two children with Ian and a stepson. Another stepson, Sean, a founding partner of Genuity Capital Markets (now part of Canaccord Genuity Group Inc.), died of anaphylactic shock 10 years ago. The Delaneys have since been active in raising funds for Food Allergy Canada through an annual charity golf tournament.
Delaney enjoys golf and travels a few times a year, most recently to Peru. She also has been involved with several non- profit organizations over the past 30 years, including the National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children.
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