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Roxana Tavana, at her home in Toronto on March 5, 2021, is a partner and member of the senior leadership team at Grayhawk Investment Strategies. Tavana joined Grayhawk last April.The Globe and Mail

Since the onset of the pandemic, wealth manager Grayhawk Investment Strategies Inc. has been on a hiring spree that has added a number of female leaders to its senior executive team as the company embarks on aggressive growth plans.

The company, which serves high and ultrahigh net-worth households across Canada, has appointed four women to its executive team, including its chief financial officer and chief compliance officer, and has hired another six women in senior management roles.

Grayhawk, which recently got an injection of cash from Power Corp.’s asset management arm Sagard Holdings, manages almost $1-billion in assets for its clients. Its ultrahigh net-worth accounts typically have more than $30-million in investable assets and can include multiple generations of family wealth.

The recently hired female executive team will play an important role in the company’s growth plans to add 500 families to its roster, as well as help attract female clients. Women are expected to control US$93-trillion in wealth globally and reach almost 40 per cent of all wealth in North America by 2023, according to research from Boston Consulting Group.

“This industry has been built around men, around men’s biases and masculine norms,” Peter Mann, Grayhawk’s co-CEO, said in an interview.

“A lot of what we espouse to be, in terms of a trusted financial partner with a family, is much better suited by a woman managing that relationship than a man.”

Both Mr. Mann and Grayhawk’s founder and co-CEO Michael Kaumeyer said they began to look outside the wealth-management space early last year when looking to add talent to the company.

“The industry is not going to evolve if you keep looking in the same area, with the same people,” Mr. Kaumeyer said. “You will not get to see things from a different perspective or through a different lens.”

Stacy Rosen, at her home in Toronto on March 5, 2021, is chief operations officer at Grayhawk. The former derivatives trader says she was constantly diversifying her skills to keep from hitting the glass ceiling.Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

The appointments are a rare occurrence within Canada’s wealth-management industry, which continues to see boardrooms dominated by men. Although women represent 48 per cent of workers in the financial services industry, few are working at the executive level, according to a recent report from Toronto-based consulting firm StrategyMarketing.ca.

Former KPMG executive Carolyn Cole is the latest hire for the company, joining Grayhawk in January as head of the family office division. Within her first month on the job, she found herself making executive decisions in a virtual meeting room full of women.

“In my 25-year-career, I don’t ever recall that happening,” Ms. Cole said in an interview. “That is the first time I’ve sat with five other female leaders, all of us making decisions, building a strategy, dividing up responsibilities and then hitting the Go button.”

Ms. Cole says a lot of wealth-management firms are focusing on the next generation as potential clients, but she looks more at potential “inheritors.”

“A lot of the time those inheritors are women, and a lot of the time [women] are the intermediary step before the next generation,” she added.

Ms. Cole is working on setting up national education platforms that are highly customized, including specifically for women and their wealth.

“You have to look at what they are inheriting and break it down for them – there is a big difference between someone who is inheriting assets versus a winery or a ranch or a tech company,” she said.

Roxana Tavana, former president and CEO of ScotiaTrust, a subsidiary of Bank of Nova Scotia, was almost three-months pregnant when she joined Grayhawk last April. As a partner and national relationship lead, Ms. Tavana will help run the firm’s business development strategy. Today, her six-month-old daughter, Zoe, frequently pops into executive Zoom meetings as Ms. Tavana juggles her new job and three kids at home.

She is a lawyer by training, having first worked at Davis Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP, before jumping into wealth management to run the legal department at DundeeWealth Inc.

After being acquired by Scotiabank in 2011, she climbed the corporate ladder into various senior executive roles, but began to miss interacting directly with clients.

“Wealth management firms are about giving fiduciary advice – about having the client’s best interest in mind when you are making decisions or providing them with options – and that is what I enjoy the most,” Ms. Tavana said.

Working predominately with female executives was also a new experience for Stacy Rosen, the company’s chief operations officer and chief risk officer, and partner who was appointed last March.

A former derivatives trader, who spent 17 years in Canada and Britain for Scotiabank and Citibank in their capital markets departments, Ms. Rosen says she was constantly diversifying her skills to keep from hitting the glass ceiling.

“I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have just one route to my career,” she said. “Having diverse stories inside Grayhawk allows us to connect with the diverse stories that are outside the firm. It allows us to be well-situated to understand all sides of the family dynamic – both the patriarch and the matriarch – that may be sitting across the table.”

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