From industry outsider to industry leader

When he graduated from university, Greg Bainbridge hadn't even heard of the CFA designation

From industry outsider to industry leader

When Greg Bainbridge graduated from university, he hadn’t even heard of the CFA designation. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years into his career that Bainbridge became aware of the CFA. It was at that point that everything changed, and he became “hooked” on the workings of the financial sector.

“There is such a diverse and interesting body of knowledge in the CFA, and that really got me excited,” Bainbridge, now Chief Investment Officer and Chief Compliance Officer at Raintree Wealth Management, says.

After completing a Human Kinetics bachelor degree at the University of British Columbia, Bainbridge started working at Telus in a marketing analysis role. It was a job that exposed to him to more aspects of financial analysis and risk management as it developed, something which Bainbridge found increasingly compelling.

After five years with Telus, Bainbridge joined the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) as manager of industry development, where he was responsible for delivering programs and initiatives that helped diversify Edmonton's economy. Bainbridge eventually moved to Raintree in Feb. 2013, joining the corporate finance division where he led the team responsible for underwriting, asset allocation and research. He describes his career as taking “an exciting path”.

“What interests me the most is having that continuing thirst to learn, and that’s another reason why I’ve found this industry to be so interesting and attractive,” Bainbridge says. “It is literally impossible to ever stop learning and discovering new ideas and ways of looking at the markets and client relationships. At every step of my career, I’ve tried to approach it from that perspective.”

Holding the roles of both CIO and Chief Compliance Officer puts Bainbridge in something of a unique position. Both positions are demanding and each has its own specific objectives. Time management has been something that Bainbridge has been forced to become an expert in.

“Originally, I thought they would be two very distinct jobs, but the more I do them the more I find them to interrelate,” Bainbridge says. “There are a lot of ideas we can take out of the compliance side that can be beneficial to how we present our thesis and service to clients. We’ve been able to uncover certain insights from an area that a lot of folks think is more of an unfortunate necessity. But, in reality, compliance can be very beneficial to striking positive client relationships.”

Bainbridge describes Raintree’s investment performance as positive this year. The firm takes more of a defensive position in its client portfolios and at this stage of the market cycle Bainbridge fully expects to be underperforming the broader market. The firm has taken a defensive position in preparation for a correction.

“I’m not saying we’re going to time that correction perfectly, we just think there is too much risk in the markets today to be fully invested,” Bainbridge says. “We have implemented a tactical allocation strategy where we are looking to be a little more opportunistic in markets we think either have a lot of opportunity or pose more risk. We have also implemented an absolute return strategy which really tries to be market neutral in how it goes about earning its returns. We also have a strategic allocation to cash.”

Bainbridge’s career has taken many twists and turns, and it certainly hasn’t taken the path he envisaged when he graduated from UBC. He’s firmly settled in the investment industry now, but there’s no sense that his thirst of knowledge is waning in any way.

“The most interesting part, and the part that caught me most by surprise, is the psychology of the investment world,” he says. “There is an incredible behavioural piece, not only amongst client relationships and interactions, but also from the general market as a whole. That is a major area of consideration for us in every aspect of our business.”

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