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Q&As from Canada: our newest member of the Toronto team talks Canadian business

1 April 2019

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From the world’s largest zinc-lead deposit in Yukon, to the bustling fishing barges in Nova Scotia, industries ranging from aerospace to video games, home to over of 35 million people and some of the largest multinational corporations in the world, there’s no doubt Canada is a dynamic place to do business.

“Building out our business development team in Toronto is key, allowing us to better support our clients in the area. This market is a major focus for Intertrust given the many different industries and opportunities in Canada,” says James Ferguson, Head of the Americas. As such, Alex Brainis rejoined this year in Toronto as Director of Business Development. “I am pleased to announce that Olivier Junod, out of our Chicago office and an 8 year veteran of Intertrust, has moved to Canada to join Alex in Toronto,” says James.

Olivier, Senior Vice President, has a long history of working with multinationals, pension funds, private equity funds, real estate investment trusts, and high net worth individuals across Europe, the United States, and Canada. He has expertise in the funds sphere and a vast institutional knowledge of our values rooted in excellence. Olivier will work with Alex to scale business in Canada and hone in on client relationships.

With his move to Toronto last month, we asked Olivier what he finds most exciting about the Canadian market and trends we should pay attention to.

From a high level overview, what excites you about doing business in Canada now?

I’ve been traveling to Canada with Intertrust for over two years. In that time, I’ve learned Canada has a sophisticated, modern, innovative and diverse economy. I appreciate that each major city is a unique economical centre—here in Toronto you find the stock exchange and the five largest banks in the country, and just 300 miles west in Montreal you find an exploding tech hub: virtual reality, aerospace, artificial-intelligence. Canada has future-forward tech centres in tandem with forestry, mining, and fishing industries.

How is new technology shaping Canadian business?

It’s hard to escape talk of blockchain, cybersecurity, and AI. Every facet of advancing technology is hitting Canada, across the entire country. We see these advancements affecting businesses across corporations, funds, and in private wealth. Especially in Montreal, tech companies are surging, providing more jobs and growing faster than ever before.

What is one of the biggest trends you’ve noticed so far?

Sustainability surfaces in more conversations. Many Canadian businesses are becoming more focused on their impact on the environment. That being said, there’s a difference amongst the provinces depending on industry. We see Québec utilising their waterways to produce greener energy, even selling it to the United States. In Alberta, the focus is still very much on mining and the extraction of sand oil. Especially in Western Canada or on the coasts, eco-tourism and industries like hunting and fishing are beginning to rely on more sustainable practices across the country.

Socially responsible investing continues to grow exponentially and is now mainstream as well. As millennials continue to invest into and own socially responsible companies in their portfolios, this trend is only likely to grow and further develop this year and beyond. Alignment with personal values is a key factor in investing for millennials.

What about in the funds space in particular? What trends do you notice?

By any global scale, Canada maintains a significant institutional investor and pension fund presence. Pension plans globally are increasingly looking towards Canada pension funds for ideas and best practices in institutional investing. With this though, institutional investors and fund managers have placed a significant focus on expenses. Greater disclosure overall, lower (or no) management fees, caps on management and incentive fees, and greater scrutiny into what expenses are being allocated to the fund is becoming a larger focus area. And of course, there’s a high expectation for service providers to use enhanced technology solutions, like client portals, to streamline processes.

Are you seeing shifts to different types of investment strategies?

With decreasing levels of performance and returns, investors have been redeploying their investments from liquid alternatives to more of the illiquid type strategies, including PE and RE. And with recent legislative changes, every Canadian investment firm can now sell liquid alternative funds, including mutual and exchange traded funds. These funds employ hedge fund strategies such as long-short or market neutral. ETFs also continue to grow at a rapid pace. They allow for diversification, lower fees and significant efficiencies across various sectors.

You have a long history working in private wealth. How will this expertise come to play in Canada?
The private wealth world has shifted a lot since 2008 with changing regulation, especially in financial centres outside of the USA and Canada. In the past, we saw high net worth individuals setting up international trusts in Canada even before migrating here. But since updates to international regulation, the most common vehicle being utilized by individuals is the Transnational Trust. Despite being a high tax jurisdiction, Canada remains an excellent place for asset planning.

Have more questions for Olivier? Want to connect with our experts in Canada? Reach out.