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Dave Kelly, the former head of independent wealth manager Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. – who also spent 14 years in management roles at Toronto-Dominion Bank’s wealth division – has re-emerged in the industry as the new chief operating officer of Richardson Wealth Inc.

On Monday afternoon, Richardson’s chief executive Kish Kapoor announced the addition of Mr. Kelly to his senior leadership team as chief operating officer, a new position for the company that will help accelerate its goal of hitting $100-billion in assets.

“I needed to add bench strength to give me the capacity to become even more aggressive in acquisitions and in adviser recruiting,” Mr. Kapoor, who is also chief executive of parent company RF Capital Group Inc. , said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Kelly will begin his new role on Jan. 15 and report directly to Mr. Kapoor.

The addition of a COO comes on the heels of the third anniversary of Richardson revamping its business operations. In 2020, Richardson Wealth – formerly known as Richardson GMP Ltd. – broke apart from former parent GMP Capital Inc. and began the lengthy process of becoming a stand-alone, publicly traded wealth-management business.

Today, the company manages $35.2-billion in assets, with 159 adviser teams. In 2021, Mr. Kapoor announced an ambitious goal to hit $100-billion in assets by 2026.

Part of that plan involved a major overhaul to move Richardson’s in-house back office operations to a new custody, clearing and trade settlement service agreement with Fidelity Clearing Canada ULC. It was a cumbersome ordeal that caused frustration for some advisers.

Late last year, some of the friction caused several adviser teams who collectively managed more than $1.4-billion in assets, to depart the company, while others pointed out RF Capital’s struggling share price, which had dropped to $6.45 in November from $19.30 on Oct. 20, 2020, around the time the GMP restructuring deal closed. The shares closed Monday at $8.16.

Mr. Kapoor said the $100-billion asset target, while challenging, is still attainable now that company can focus on growth, opposed to the past three years, during which he was focused on rebuilding the infrastructure to support his adviser teams.

“Now, after investing in the overall platform, Dave’s vast experience, insight and leadership ability are a perfect fit for us as we pivot to accelerating growth,” Mr. Kapoor added.

The company will focus on three “pillars” of growth, he said. The first area of focus – which will largely be overseen by Mr. Kelly in day-to-day operations – will aim to add about 20 per cent of the company’s future growth through its existing adviser teams. Mr. Kelly’s team will include Neil Bosch and James King, who were both recently appointed as regional heads of adviser experience and growth.

Mr. Kapoor will oversee the two other areas of growth, which will include recruiting “high-profile” advisers each year – or about $2.5-billion in assets annually – as well as sifting through a long pipeline of “possible acquisitions” of asset managers and financial advisory firms. The aim, he says, is for acquisitions to account for about 60 per cent of the future growth.

“One of the first things I did with Kish was to go through his growth strategy and I thought it was elegant, clear and achievable,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview.

Mr. Kelly brings almost 30 years of wealth-management experience to Richardson. Most recently, in 2022, he was hired by Onex Corp. to revamp Gluskin Sheff and accelerate its plans to gain market share. However, less than a year later – in an unusual transaction – Onex transferred a majority of Gluskin Sheff’s assets and advisers to RBC Wealth Management Canada and shut down the remainder of the firm’s wealth-management operations.

Mr. Kelly was not a part of the move to RBC and announced his retirement from Onex last September.

But after meeting with more than 50 individuals in the wealth-management industry, Mr. Kelly said he knew he wanted to continue his career in the independent wealth channel.

“During my time at Gluskin, over and over again, clients were very clear in what they were looking for in terms of choice in Canada ... and I was really disappointed that we didn’t get to finish that journey at Gluskin,” Mr. Kelly said.

“But there is growing number of advisers and their clients who are opting to join quality, independent boutique wealth-management firms like Richardson Wealth … and so that’s been the driving force for me to stay in the independent space.”

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