The ultimate advisor's fund

Quick, what’s the third largest publicly-traded mutual fund company in Canada? Fidelity? AGF? Invesco? If you guess any of these, you’d be wrong.

Today, relatively few in English Canada realize the third largest publicly-trade mutual fund company in this country is Fiera Capital Corp., a large and up-and-coming player from Quebec that has rapidly become a major player in the Canadian market.

Fiera recently announced the company acquired Propel Capital Corporation, a provider of closed-end funds. The founder, president and CEO of Propel, Raj Lala, recently chatted with WP about his company and the deal.  "We wanted to do closed-end funds as a way of bringing some foreign managers that weren't distributed here, to Canada,” says Lala. “Some foreign companies don't want to set up infrastructure necessary to distribute their funds here. So we said, ‘Let’s explore this market,” said Lala.

Propel managed to get well-known hedge fund manager John Paulson into the company’s fund. "Our fund was the only retail product he ever did. We had good assets class, great names. Fiera was interested in that,” says Lala.  The company plunked down $12 million for Propel. Lala will take on the role of executive vice president, retail markets for Fiera Capital. Which gets us to our next question, so just who the heck is Fiera Capital? Lala has a stock answer for this question: “I like to call it the third largest publicly traded fund company you've never heard of,” he says. “Outside of Quebec, people have never heard of them.”

Founded by well-known Quebec-businessman Jean-Guy Desjardins, Fiera was created in September 2003 with the acquisition of Elantis, Desjardins Group's  investment subsidiary. Since then the company has grown rapidly through acquisitions; YMG Capital Management; Senecal Investment  Counsel; Sceptre Investment Counsel Ltd., all have been wrapped up into Fiera. The company gained a listing on the TSX through its acquisitions.

Jean-Guy Desjardins is well-known in the financial services industry in Canada. He was involved in getting Marc Carney from the office of Stephen Harper and into the Bank of Canada. He also started and grew TAL Global Asset Management into major fund manager it was before CIBC bought it up. Today, Fiera has more than $82 billion in assets under management, 400 employees and a market cap of about $800 million.  The company claims that it offers “non-traditional investments…[including an] extensive array including fixed income, liability-driven investment solutions (LDI),  Canadian and global equity, asset allocation and non-traditional investment solutions.” Fiera's partners include Fiera Axium Infrastructure, Fiera Properties and Fiera Quantum