Inside a leadership transition at Fiera Capital

Regional division, the appointment of a new CEO for Fiera Canada, and the future of a Canadian giant

Inside a leadership transition at Fiera Capital

Fiera Capital has appointed Maxime Ménard as the new President & CEO of Fiera Canada and Global Private Wealth. The move comes as the Canadian-based global asset manager embarks on a strategy of decentralization and succession planning under the second tenure of Jean-Guy Desjardins as Chairman of the Board and Global CEO of Fiera Capital.

Desjardins and Ménard spoke to WP about what this new appointment means for the firm. Desjardins explained some of his structural plans for the organization and outlined what he hopes his regional leaders like Ménard will deliver. Ménard explained some of what he sees as the growth opportunity for Fiera in Canada now, and how the firm will be making its presence felt among Canadian advisors.

“Part of my main responsibility when I came back was to put in place a model that would be more efficient than the one that had been tried. My choice was to decentralize the organization,” Desjardins said. “I recreated the regional and divisional concept where I focused on having very strong leaders who are the Presidents and CEOs of their regions. People with strong investment expertise and with strong demonstrated capabilities in the management of a distribution model system. I think we’ve done that.”

Desjardins praised Ménard’s leadership experience, track record, and emotional intelligence. Ménard had previously served as CEO at Jarislowsky Fraser, where he organized the transition of a founder-led organization into a new generation of leadership. Desjardins says he selected Ménard both because he thought he could lead the Canadian division of Fiera well, and because he could serve as a potential successor to Desjardins as global CEO. Given that Desjardins had previously stepped down from his role before being asked to return by the board, he is placing additional emphasis on succession planning. Ménard, he says, can offer investors a bit more clarity as to where Fiera’s global leadership may go.

For his part Ménard said he was excited to embrace the challenge of work at Fiera after accomplishing all he could at Jarislowsky Fraser. He was also looking forward to working more directly with clients and pushing Fiera’s advisor outreach work forward.

“I started at Fidelity Investments, so I know the advisory business quite well. I think when we combine the private asset opportunity and the ability to develop well suited products for advisors, that could offer them and their clients a tremendous opportunity,” Ménard says. “I know because I’ve been at other places that tried to develop such an offering, and as I’m learning the depth and the sophistication of these products I’m very enthusiastic about the opportunity to grow. In the Canadian market I think we have below-benchmark market share within the advisor community.”

Ménard explained what he sees as the key areas of opportunity for advisors now. Namely the higher-yielding income they can get for their clients through private assets like credit, infrastructure or real estate. Fiera has already been able to develop more liquid products that offer these exposures, available through an institutional platform that allows advisors to access these institutional-style investments. Desjardins added that much of their retail advisory distribution comes through a partnership with Canoe Financial which offers retail advisors the liquidity and valuation they need in this kind of investment.

Under Ménard’s leadership, and the new divisional structure at Fiera Capital, Desjardins believes that advisors and Canadian investors will be better served by the company.

“I think what advisors will notice is a much stronger presence, one which will be highly professional with significantly more advisor support than what we have been able to offer in the past,” Desjardins says. “We will be investing in supporting our divisional CEOs. One impact of creating that decentralized structure at the divisional level is that those CEOs have a plan, they have a vision, they need resources to execute and we will provide the resources that are necessary for our CEOs to be as successful as they can be.”