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Jeff Carney, who is stepping down as CEO of IGM Financial for health reasons.Handout

IGM Financial Inc.'s chief executive officer Jeff Carney has departed the company for health reasons, handing the reins over to former Scotiabank executive James O’Sullivan.

In a news release on Monday, Mr. Carney, 57, announced he is retiring as president and CEO of IGM Financial and subsidiary IG Wealth Management, effective immediately, after being diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“While this is a tough decision to make, stepping aside at this time is the right move for both my family and the company,” Mr. Carney said in a statement. “I know I am leaving the leadership of IGM in excellent hands and have great confidence in its future.”

Mr. O’Sullivan, the former group head for Canadian Banking at Scotiabank, has been appointed as president and CEO of IGM Financial. He will also replace Mr. Carney as a director of IGM Financial.

IGM Financial chair Jeffrey Orr said in an interview on Monday that Mr. Carney gave the company a “respectable amount of time” to find a new leader, saying the process was not done in haste, but involved “months” of discussions.

“Jeff and his family are tackling this news in a very positive manner – the same way Jeff does everything else in his life,” Mr. Orr said.

“Jeff has left the IGM company in a very strong position and each of the business units are in a very strong competitive position – much stronger than when [Jeff] came into the company, including what he accomplished at Mackenzie Financial and IG Wealth.”

Mr. O’Sullivan brings more than 30 years of experience from his long career at Scotiabank. Most recently, he was responsible for the bank’s Canadian retail and commercial banking, and global-wealth and asset-management activities, before stepping down in June, 2019.

“The immediate priority for me is continuity,” Mr. O’Sullivan told The Globe and Mail. “I want to maintain the momentum in each of the underlying businesses and will spend time listening, learning and forming my own views. Over time, I will certainly bring myself to the job, just as Jeff Carney did seven years ago.”

Mr. O’Sullivan said he watched Mr. Carney and his executive team during an investors day presentation a few years ago that outlined a new plan for IGM.

“[The plan] brought up by Jeff responded to all of the industry trends and developments and positioned each of the [IGM] businesses very well,” he said. “And that is a plan Jeff and his team have executed very well on over the last several years.”

With $173-billion in total assets under management, IGM Financial is a subsidiary of Power Financial Corp., and houses wealth managers Investors Group Inc. and Investment Planning Counsel Inc., along with asset manager Mackenzie Investments.

Also Monday, IGM announced Damon Murchison, executive vice-president, head of retail at Mackenzie Investments, will take on the role of president and CEO of IG Wealth Management (formerly Investors Group).

Mr. Carney led IGM as a co-CEO with Murray Taylor between 2012 and 2016, before becoming the sole CEO of IGM in May, 2016. At the same time, he took on the role of president and CEO of Investors Group. Before 2016, he spent three years as president and CEO of asset manager Mackenzie Financial.

Over most of his 30-year career, Mr. Carney has focused on the growth of wealth management and the financial-adviser industry. In 1992, he helped launch TD Bank’s brokerage division TD Evergreen Investments, now known as TD Private Wealth. In 2001, he moved south of the border to take on executive positions with Fidelity Investments and then Charles Schwab Corp. He returned to Canada in 2008 when he joined Putnam Investments, also a subsidiary of Power Financial.

Mr. Carney will continue to serve in an advisory capacity to the IGM companies.

In addition, Mark Kinzel, currently executive vice-president of financial services for IG Wealth Management, has been appointed vice-chair of IG Wealth Management. Barry McInerney remains as president and CEO of Mackenzie Investments, and Chris Reynolds continues as president and CEO of Investment Planning Counsel (IPC).

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