Jay Bhutani of AGF Management is part of this year's Wealth Professional Canada's Host List.

AGF Management

In January, AGF Management became the latest asset manager to enter the ETF space in Canada when it launched its quantitative investment platform, AGFiQ Asset Management. The new entity is a collaboration between AGF and its affiliates from Highstreet Asset Management and FFCM, and the firm’s new head of ETF strategy, Jay Bhutani, believes it’s a development likely to find favour among investors in Canada.

“To ensure we develop unique solutions and avoid what could be considered ‘me too’ products that are all too prevalent in our industry, we approach our development process with patience and discipline that most firms don’t have,” Bhutani says. “When we have a new investment thesis, we don’t just bring it to market. We incubate it internally and test the thesis with real dollars to ensure the product delivers the way we expect.”

Bhutani has worked with AGF for more than 20 years now, occupying various roles with the company, including head of product, interim head of marketing and vice-president of business solutions. His latest role is an important one for a company that is going through a transition period as it celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The company and its founder, Warren Goldring, were pioneers of the mutual fund business in Canada, so active management is at the core of AGF’s business. Now it’s bringing that same approach to the ETF space, which Bhutani believes will set it apart from the rest.

“Our goal is to provide investors with solutions that deliver higher risk-adjusted returns by assessing and targeting the factors that drive market returns,” he says. “Our multi-factor approach allows for intelligent portfolio construction that provides opportunities for total return while also actively managing risk and the potential for losses.”

After launching AGFiQ in the Canadian marketplace in January, AGF made the leap into the much bigger and potentially more lucrative US market in April, a move the company celebrated by ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. It was a development years in the making, but it really gathered momentum with the acquisition of a majority stake in FFCM in 2015. Combining the expertise of the FFCM team with the existing quantitative investment knowledge of Highstreet Asset Management, AGF was ready to launch AGFiQ and enter a new phase.

“Our goal at AGFiQ is to provide better outcomes by focusing on factor-based quantitative strategies that provide better risk-adjusted returns,” Bhutani says. “That is how we will continue to differentiate ourselves as a firm.”