Finding a niche outside the Big Five

Following its merger with Toron last year, Cidel Asset Management offers a guide on how to thrive as a privately owned entity

The dominance of the Big Five is a feature of the Canadian financial system that often causes concern in the industry.

“Too big to fail” is an aphorism generally associated, and thus discredited, with the crash of 2008. The consensus coming out of that particular disaster was that a wide range of providers acting transparently was much more preferable heading forward. The counterpoint to that is the fact that increased regulatory and compliance requirements, combined with the rapid growth in fintech, means the associated costs can often only be met by the industry’s heavy hitters.  

Many of Canada’s smaller and medium-sized advisory firms have either shuttered or been swallowed up over the past number of years. That’s not to suggest there aren’t other companies thriving outside the remit of the banks, however -- Cidel Asset Management is a case in point.

Part of Cidel Financial Group, the Canadian arm has $6 billion in assets under management, combining asset management and a trust company providing planning and structuring for high-net-worth clients.  

Craig Rimer is CEO of Cidel Bank & Trust and explains how the firm has thrived in a very challenging environment.

“The typical investment counsel in Canada is pretty niche, focused on one or two strategies, but not offering a greater list of comprehensive services,” he says. “We are able to offer wealth-building services that are much more nimble than the big Canadian banks.”

This approach was borne out with careful planning by a team of highly-skilled individuals that dictate Cidel’s investment strategy.

“The institutional mandates are continuing to show out-performance and our numbers are extremely good,” says Rimer. “On the private client side, Canadian equities are doing really well, but similarly our global portfolios have out-performed too.”

Cidel Asset Management is the marriage of the Cidel Group and Toron Asset Management after their merger last year. The process began back in 2009 when Cidel acquired a 51 per cent stake in an attempt to branch out into global equities. Now that expansion has proven a success, Cidel is keen to continue its expansion drive.

“Right now we are looking for higher yielding strategies, as well as opportunistic acquisitions that will leverage the infrastructure we have created,” says Rimer. “We have $12 billion in assets to find smaller firms that have the scale and efficiencies to grow. We have the asset management business in house, trust and fiduciary, advisory, so the whole package offers a very broad range of services.”

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