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Expat banker’s firm soars on novel fee structure

Five years ago, Canadian investment banker Michael Tory left the smoking ruins of Lehman Bros. and launched a novel new firm that would offer only one product – advice – and build its business model on monthly retainers.

The firm, which would become Ondra Partners, seemed doomed to failure – or, at best, to eternal niche status. The investment banking sector was imploding and Ondra was unknown. Even if it did survive, Ondra seemed unlikely to make gusher profits because its strategy was not based on the traditional “eat-what-you-kill” model favoured in London and New York, where fat transaction fees are the goal. Ondra wasn’t paid to push deals.