David Pyper of Blair Franklin Capital Partners is part of this year's Wealth Professional Canada's Host List.

Blair Franklin Capital Partners

While having the resources of a big bank at your disposal is nothing to sniff at, there’s a lot to 
be said for going small and finding a niche. For advisory firm Blair Franklin Capital Partners, that highly lucrative niche happens to be M&As. According to managing partner David Pyper, the firm’s major selling point is its independence. 

“Probably our biggest presence is in financial services, and the reason for that is the fact that we’re independent,” he says. “We sold some mutual fund businesses in the last year, and when you’re doing that, often the sellers want someone that isn’t a potential buyer, so it rules out a lot of the banks.” 
One major deal was Corus Entertainment’s $2.65 billion acquisition of Shaw Media, completed on April 1. “That was one of the more high-profile M&As for us over the past year and was typical of what we do,” Pyper says. “Shaw had some of the big banks advising them, but the board hired us to give a fairness opinion. Our big advantage is our independence. We have to know what we’re doing and do really good work, of course, but we’re generally hired when someone wants an independent voice.” 

While 2015 was far from a stellar year for the industry, and indeed the economy at large, the fact that Blair Franklin has carved out a niche for itself means work is never hard to come by. “In our world, we have done reasonably well the past number of years,” Pyper says. “Our business has been pretty steady. We think there is a continued need for independent financial advisors, and we expect that to continue. The fact that independent brokers are weaker helps us also. It makes the banks stronger, so that increases the need for quality independent advisory firms.” 
Having made his way to Blair Franklin after holding key positions at ScotiaMcLeod, CIBC Wood Gundy and Scotia Capital, Pyper envisions a more challenging landscape for many advisors going forward.  

“The big change in the advisory channel has been the demographic change as we move to an older society,” he says. “Increasingly, more people are less about wealth accumulation and more about wealth consumption. There was a period of time when the wind was at the back of the advising industry, and there was really good growth in assets year-over-year. That allowed a lot of people to get into the industry and do really well. That demographic trend has shifted, and that means it’s going to be more difficult and more competitive going forward.”